The Red Storm briefly took the lead after scoring six straight points, but then the Orange took control of the game. The ‘Cuse outscored the Johnnies 35-12 over the remaining 16 minutes of the opening half.
That offensive spark came from point guard Johnny Flynn. The sophomore, who struggled against ‘Nova while playing sick, was absolutely unstoppable tonight. Flynn's first shot went in despite it looking like he was fouled. Then on the next trip down, the electrifying guard showed off his handle and drained a deep jumper right in front of a defender.
At the ten minute mark, Syracuse doubled up on St. John's after a three from Eric Devendorf made the score 20-10. Then it was back to the "Johnny Flynn Show" as Flynn knocked down a trifecta and then finished a fastbreak with a one-handed slam. He wasn't done filling out the highlight reel though. Flynn absolutely embarrassed a Red Storm defender by blowing by him and then making him slip as he stepped back to hit a jumper. You could hear plenty of ooohs and ahhhs from the Madison Square Garden crowd.
Flynn ended the half with thirteen points and Devendorf added ten to give the Orange a commanding 39-18 lead at the break. Syracuse was about as efficient offensively as it could've been, shooting 17-of-26 (65.4 percent) from the field. On the other side, St. John's could do little right when they had the ball. SJU only made seven shots, connecting on about 27 percent of its attempts. The Orange's 2-3 zone did a good job in collapsing on big men to knock the ball away and trapping in the corners to force turnovers.
The second half was much of the same; the Orange dominating the weaker opponent. With just under fourteen minutes left, SU went on an 8-0 run, five straight points from Devo and then an Andy Rautins trey stretched the lead to 56-29.
With about five minute to go, Rick Jackson went on a scoring rampage. The sophomore scored eight of his fifteen points in a two-minute span. Then the bench got involved in the action as Kris Joseph, Brandon Reese, and Jake Presutti all scored in the closing minutes. All the starters stood and cheered when Reese went down the lane for a layup and Presutti ended the game by knocking down a wide open shot from long range as the buzzer sounded. It was all smiles for the Orange who dominated from start to finish.
Some other observations from Syracuse's 87-58 win at St. John's:
· This was an important game for the Orange to not only win, but do it convincingly. After going through the last ten games with a 3-7 record, SU needed to regain some confidence to show it could win and do it on the road. It bodes well for the ‘Cuse as it comes back home for games against Cincinnati and Rutgers. Wins against these two and it would all but seal a return back to the NCAA Tournament.
· The offensive output by the Orange was brutally efficient. For the game Syracuse shot almost 65 percent from the floor. And after chucking up a ton of shots from beyond the arc against Villanova, SU limited its shots from downtown. But when they did launch threes, they went in (6-for-11 3PT range).
· The Orange had four players in double-figures with Flynn leading the way. The point guard finished with a game-high 21 points and eight assists while flashing that thousand-watt smile. Devendorf played extremely well, dropping seventeen points and knocking down three trifectas. He also dished out six helpers while only committing one turnover. Big man Arinze Onuaku rebounded from a poor outing against the Wildcats to score 14 points while Jackson scored fifteen on 7-of-8 shooting from the field. The only Orange player with double-digit rebounds was Paul Harris, who collected ten caroms off the glass.
· The win by SU is its third straight over the Red Storm and the ninth in the last ten meetings.
· Syracuse's 20th win gives head coach Jim Boeheim a record 31 seasons with at least 20 victories. He is the all-time Division 1 leader in that category, passing the great Dean Smith.
Syracuse (20-8, 8-7 Big East) gets some rest before it hosts Cincinnati at home on Sunday. Tip-off for that game is set for 2 p.m.