The Orange returned to the Carrier Dome after a less than stellar win at South Florida in which SU squandered a 16 point halftime lead and had Central New Yorkers biting their nails in what should have been an easy win. The Syracuse players wouldn't leave any chance against DePaul though.
Once again guard Andy Rautins came out of the gates on fire, hitting two from downtown early on to give SU a 6-3 lead early on. Holding that three point cushion at the 14 minute mark, the Orange dropped in seven unanswered points to take a 20-10 lead. Rautins swished home his third shot from beyond the arc in that run.
With just under nine minutes left in the half, DePaul's Dar Tucker drained a three-pointer to cut the deficit to five. A few minutes later though, Syracuse went on another scoring streak, this time a 9-0 run to extend the lead to 19. All those points came on lay-ups from four different players.
The halftime score was 47-31 in favor of the Orange. Coupled with Rautins' hot shooting was the electrifying play of Jonny Flynn. The point guard scored ten points and dished out five assists, including two over-the-shoulder, highlight-reel helpers to sophomore Rick Jackson who cashed those passes into dunks. Syracuse also took care of the basketball, turning it over only five times while forcing the Blue Demons to cough it up ten times which led to 15 points for SU.
The Orange came out a bit slow in the second half as it took almost three minutes to score its first basket, another three from Rautins. The Blue Demons capitalized on the slow play, trimming SU's lead down to 13. But that's as close as DePaul would get for the rest of the game. On the very next Orange possession, junior Paul Harris put in a hoop which helped him become the 50th Syracuse player to amass 1000 career points.
With a little less than 12 minutes to go, Syracuse was on top 62-46 and then had one of its more impressive stretches of the night. The Orange connected on seven of its next ten shot attempts, including two in the paint from Jackson, two treys for Eric Devendorf, and three lay-ups for big man Arinze Onuaku. That streak gave SU its biggest advantage of the game at 22 points with about six minutes to go. Onuaku got the 17, 296 fans on their feet when he dribbled the length of the court and slammed it home with two hands, pulling up his 258 pound body to do a chin up over the rim.
Some other observations from Syracuse's 85-68 win over DePaul:
- · With the number nine ranking the Orange came out and played like it was the better team. Syracuse placed six players in double-figures, and for the fourth consecutive game Rautins led the way with 17 points including five trifectas. He also finished the contest with six assists. The junior guard has been absolutely sensational since his breakout performance against Coppin State. Onuaku was next with 14 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double while Harris finished the night with 14 as well and pulled down nine boards. "Do-it-all-Paul" looked a little shaky with his jumper, but the injury to his hand didn't seem to hinder his aggressiveness at all.
- · Bouncing back from a poor performance against South Florida were Jackson and Flynn. The big man from Philly scored 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting and was just solid in 20 minutes. Flynn was back to his normal self, finishing with 12 points and 8 dimes. Devendorf also looked good after complaining about a hip-pointer that he suffered against the Bulls. Devo tallied 13 points, including a perfect 3-of-3 showing from long range.
- · Freshman Kris Joseph looked a little lost out on the floor tonight. In 15 minutes of action, the forward scored only two points, was 0-of-3 from the field, and committed two turnovers. He wasn't able to finish a couple shots on the inside because he didn't go up strong. Syracuse is going to need the freshman to step up his play soon. Joseph has shown he is capable of that when he scored 10 points in a win over Florida.
- · After only five miscues in the first half, SU committed nine turnovers in the second period of play. Syracuse needs to take care of the rock like it did in the first 20 minutes if it wants to win in the Big East.
- · Syracuse is off to its best start since 2004-2005 when the Orange also won 15 of its first 16 contests.
Syracuse (15-1, 3-0 Big East) and ranked 9/11 travels to the RAC to take on Rutgers on Saturday. It's almost a must win as the Orange start a killer four game stretch next Wednesday. It starts at Georgetown, then home against Notre Dame, next on the road to face Pittsburgh, and finally back to the Dome to take on Louisville.