Game Recap: The Orange outscored the Huskies 51-31 after halftime en route to their 10th victory of the season. In direct contrast to the second half dominance, the Orange opened the game looking rather sluggish and disinterested. Both teams basically traded baskets in the early-going with neither team opening up much of a lead. Paul Harris and Arinze Onuaku helped the 'Cuse keep pace with some strong interior play, while Northeastern made good on a series of mid-range jumpers from Nkem Ojougboh (12 pts, 6 reb).
A Matt Janning jump shot at the 8:38 mark gave Northeastern a 24-20 lead. The four point cushion would prove to be their largest of the game, as Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim made a switch to man to man defense, which helped inject a little bit of life into his players. The Orange finished out the half by scoring 22 points in the final 7 and a half minutes. Once again, Harris and Onuaku led the charge, combining for more than half of Syracuse's points during this stretch.
The increased offensive output helped SU to regain the lead, but the Northeastern backcourt of Janning (26 pts, 3 reb, 2 ast, 3 st) and Chaisson Allen (19 pts, 5 reb, 3 ast) wouldn't let the game get out of hand. A pair of free throws by Allen with 38 seconds left in the half tied the score at 42, but the 'Cuse took the lead going into the break when Jonny Flynn drove the lane and hit a tough fading jumper just before the halftime buzzer. Flynn finished the game with 13 points on 6 of 10 shooting, but managed only 2 assists on the afternoon.
A quick 8-0 run minutes into the second half gave SU its first breathing room of the afternoon. The spurt was catalyzed by Harris, who converted back to back offensive rebounds into easy points. Harris's hustle and all-around game was on full display on Sunday, as he controlled the glass on both ends (15 rebounds), pounded the interior on offense (19 pts), hounded the Huskie opposition (4 steals), and had several spectacular passes (7 assists). He quite possibly could have finished with a triple double if he had a little more luck. Donte Greene and Arinze Onuaku both missed a pair of layups that Harris had set them up for.
Paul Harris turned in a Monster game.
Matt Janning once again tried to bring the Huskies back as his breakaway dunk at the 16 minute mark brought Northeastern to within 5 points, but an old-fashioned three point play by Jonny Flynn got the momentum back on the Orange's side. Syracuse then pulled away behind a parade of fastbreak conversions. The Huskies were unable to get good looks against the man to man defense and as a consequence, the SU team speed took over the game. Jardine scored 10 second half points to finished with a career high 18 and Donte Greene woke up from his first half nap to pour in 14 after the break. Greene's emphatic two-handed dunk at the 2:38 point put the final exclamation point on the Orange victory.
1) Breakout game for Scoop Jardine. He took care of a lot of the ballhandling duties today and finished an efficient 7 of 11 from the field. Most of his misses came on 16 to 18 foot jumpers. He's not going to be a consistent long range threat for some time, but he can be effective shooting from the foul line and in. Defensively he is already a step ahead of Devendorf, as his long arms and quick hands helped force several turnovers today.
Scoop Jardine defends Matt Janning.
2) Flynn and Greene. Not exactly the best showing for the dynamic freshman duo, even though both posted respectable stats by the time of the game was won. Flynn was steady but never seemed to jump his game up into that higher gear that he clearly possesses. He deferred a bit of the ballhandling duties to Jardine, presumably because Boeheim knows he's the better off-the-ball shooter, but when it comes to bigtime Big East battles, I want the ball in his hands. Flynn's defensive pressure in the second-half spearheaded the Orange attack. His ball-hawking really prevented Northeastern from comfortably getting into their offensive sets.
For about 3/4 of the game, Greene had the look of a somnambulist today. He didn't take his first shot attempt from the field until 13 minutes AFTER tip-off. He had a strong flurry at the end of the game to finish with 17 points and 5 rebounds, but in this case the numbers lie, because he was just dreadful for most of the game. Inattentive is the word that best sums up his first half effort. It's hard to complain about 4 of 6 three point shooting, but both of his misses came as a result of very poor shot selection. He is so deadly when he's open and lets the game come to him, but I can foresee some games during the Big East season where his rushed triple attempts early in the shot clock shoot SU right out of the game.
3) A different kind of team without Devo. Syracuse managed to post 95 points while connecting on only 4 three point shots. Moreover, the Orange took only 9 shots from behind the arc. The Orange will miss his three point shooting and his ability to get off a shot at nearly any point in a game. To counter these deficiencies, Boeheim has his team focused on utilizing its team speed in transition and pounding the ball into the big men. Onuaku, Harris, Jackson, and Ongenaet are all getting several more looks at the basket, and that has resulted in some excellent team field goal percentages in recent games. The question now is can these guys continue this success against bigger, stronger, and more athletic opponents?
4) Kristof. Another strong game from the JUCO transfer. Ongenaet is beginning to show much more confidence on the court and his hustle is infectious. Boeheim also seems to be gaining confidence in his Belgian import, as he didn't hesitate to go to Ongenaet when Greene opened the game in a funk. Kristof finished with a career high 10 points and had another smooth baseline drive where he did a pump fake from the wing and got by the defender for a spinning left-handed layup. He added another lefty shot later in the game and finished with 10 points and 5 rebounds in 19 minutes of play. Ongenaet also drew cheers from the crowd when his hustle back on defense and hard foul broke up a surefire Northeastern fastbreak. I'm still not sold on him being much of a factor in Big East play, but he has gotten better which each game and hopefully that trend continues.
Ongenaet and Jardine Get Defensive.
5) The Future is Now. Syracuse's first Big East game is on Wednesday evening against St. Johns in the Carrier Dome. The last few games have allowed Boeheim to give ample time to secondary players like Jardine, Jackson, and Ongenaet. All three of these players have shown quite a bit of promise recently, but the real season starts on Wednesday and none of them will have the amount of freedom they enjoyed against the likes of Colgate, Cornell, and Northeastern. Boeheim will need all of them to play well in upcoming games while continuing to get the kind of play we have come to expect from the other 4 starters.