After an eight day layoff for the holidays, the Orange returned to the Carrier Dome to embark on what no doubt will be a rough and rugged 18 game conference slate. Syracuse wasted little time in taking control of this game.
The visiting Pirates held a one point lead after four and half minutes, and that's the last time the Orange would trail. With the score 20-19 in favor of SU, the ‘Cuse caught fire from beyond the arc to crush the spirit of Seton Hall.
During a six minute stretch, six of the Orange's eight baskets came from downtown, 3 apiece from guards Andy Rautins and Eric Devendorf. Syracuse outscored Seton Hall 23 to 8 as Rautins capped the run with his fifth three-pointer of the half. The hot shooting from the outside gave SU a 16 point lead and the Orange would extend that advantage going into the locker room with a 54-35 halftime score.
The Orange were absolutely unconscious from three-point range hitting 9-of-14 (64.3 percent) shots while the Pirates put up a donut going 0-of-11 from deep. Syracuse also had three players in double figures, Devendorf leading the way with 16 off the bench in his return from a two-game suspension.
Seton Hall trimmed the deficit to 14 during the opening two minutes of the second half, but that's as close as the Pirates would come for the rest of the game. Syracuse went on a 15-4 run that was started by a three-point play from Rautins. The junior guard showed he can also drive to the basket in this game which makes him that much more dangerous. That run put the Orange up by 25 points and in complete control.
Unlike many times when SU grabbed a big lead, the Orange did not lift its foot off the gas pedal. The Orange kept taking the action right to the Pirates. Another Rautins three and back-to-back dunks by Onuaku made the score 86-55 with about eight minutes to go. A few minutes later Mookie Jones would take an alley-oop pass from Devendorf and slam it home emphatically to give SU a 32 point cushion, its largest of the contest. With just under a minute remaining, Jones would can a three from the corner to help the ‘Cuse hit the century mark.
Some other observations from Syracuse's 100-76 win over Seton Hall:
· -This has to be considered the best 40 minutes of basketball the Orange have played all season. When the lead was 10, SU pushed it to 20. When it was 20, the Orange players wanted to make it 30. That's the kind of attitude that has been missing and this game was an encouraging sign, especially after an eight day hiatus from the court.
· -Orange fans have been waiting to see Andy Rautins shoot the lights out and he has delivered in bunches the last two games. The Jamesville native hit an astonishing 7-of-10 shots from beyond the arc to finish with a game-high 26 points. In his last two games, Rautins is 16-of-26 (61.5 percent) from downtown and has amassed a total of 55 points.
· -The hot shooting was contagious as the ‘Cuse shot over 56 percent for the game and had five players with double-digit point totals. Following Rautins was Devendorf who dropped in 20 points in only 22 minutes of action. The junior did not miss a beat after missing the two previous games due to suspension. Both Rick Jackson and Jonny Flynn tallied 14 points. Inserting Jackson into the starting lineup has been head coach Jim Boeheim's best move of the season and it's paying dividends. Big man Arinze Onuaku rounded out the top scorers with 11 points.
· -Seton Hall did score 76 points, but a bunch of those came in the last few minutes of garbage time. SU's 2-3 zone baited the Seton Hall into bad shots from long range. The Pirates were an atrocious 2-of-27 (7.4 percent) from beyond the arc and shot under 40 percent from the field for the game. Leading scorer Jeremy Hazell got his points (23) but only made eight of his 24 shot attempts, including a dismal 2-of-14 effort from deep.
· -The 23,152 in attendance saw a rare occurrence. The last time SU hit the century mark against a Big East opponent was during the 1994-1995 season. The Orange defeated Providence by the same score, 100-76 on February 8, 1995.
Syracuse (13-1, 1-0 Big East) and ranked 11/13 travels to St. Petersburg to face South Florida on Friday at 8:30 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN.