Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Rautins, Jackson Propel Syracuse Past Providence
Just in case anybody was thinking Syracuse could suffer a late-season letdown, Andy Rautins and Rick Jackson sent a loud reminder the the Orangemen can score from anywhere on the floor.
After trailing at the break to Providence, 52-47, Syracuse put on a show of offensive firepower and defensive skills, outscoring the Friars, 52-33, en route to a 99-85 victory, their 26th, against just 2 losses. Jackson was a powerhouse inside, hitting on 13 of 17 shots for a career-high 28 points to go with his 9 rebounds (6 offensive). Rautins, who has emerged as the team leader this season, matched Jackson in the points column, going 10-for-16 from the field, including 8 of 12 3-point attempts. He fell just one point short of his own career high.
While those two were playing Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside, their teammates were slamming the door on the overmatched Friars, who had hit 10 of 19 three-pointers in the first half. In the second half, they went just 4-for-14 from beyond the arc, with Syracuse defenders challenging almost every shot.
The 99 points scored by Syracuse was the best offensive output they've had against any Big East opponent this season by far. Their previous high was 85, also scored against Providence.
In first place at 13-2 in the conference with just three games left on the regular season schedule, the Orange earned a double bye in the upcoming Big East tournament as they are certain to be one of the top four teams. Syracuse is one game up on Villanova, whom they host on Saturday. A win there would virtually assure that the Orangemen are corwned Big East champs.
Notable: Keep an eye on the Florida Gators. With their 75-62 win over Tennessee Tuesday night, they're in a good spot in the SEC East, at 9-4 (20-8 overall). With three games left on their schedule, the Gators are hoping to win two of them. They play at Georgia on Saturday, then host Vanderbilt on March 2 before finishing up on the road, at Kentucky, March 7.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Rautins Stars as Syracuse Downs Georgetown
The first meeting this season between age-old rivals Georgetown and Syracuse resulted in a less-than epic performance as the Orangemen dusted the Hoyas by an easy 73-56 score at the Carrier Dome. On Thursday night, it appeared that the Orange had Georgetown's number again, despite the game being played on the Hoyas' home floor.
Taking the lead right from the start, Syracuse extended a 44-31 half time gap to eventually lead by as many as 23 points before the Hoyas put together a mid-to-late second half run that cut the lead to 1, at 71-70, with just over a minute remaining. Having lost both of their big men - Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson - to fouls, the Orange responded with a basket by super sub Kris Joseph and a pair of Andy Rautins free throws that sealed up a 75-71 victory, Syracuse's 9th straight road win without a loss and 7th in Big East play.
Rautins, who scored 15 points and had six steals in their first encounter, emerged as the game's high-scorer with a season-high 26 points on 6-for-11 shooting, which included 5 of 9 3-point scores. A 74% free throw shooter, Rautins canned 9 of 11 from the line and hauled in 7 rebounds.
Though Syracuse blew most of their impressive lead, they did not look rattled at any point of the game, especially in the final minute. With legendary Jim Boeheim on the sidelines and floor leader Rautins directing traffic in the 2-3 zone scheme, Syracuse virtually wrapped up a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament with their gritty performance, to say nothing of their shining 25-2 record. They also managed to slip 1/2 game ahead of Villanova in the Big East standings, at 12-2. The 11-2 Wildcats play at Pittsburgh and host South Florida before heading up to play Syracuse next Saturday (Feb. 27), in their only meeting this season, a game that should decide the Big East champion.
Notable: Both #13 Gonzaga and #14 Wisconsin suffered losses to unranked opponents Thursday, the Zags falling Loyola Marymount, 74-66, while the Badgers were thumped by Minnesota, 68-52. Late-season losses have a way of deflating a team's seeding at the Big Dance, especially the kind of drubbing taken by the Badgers. Minnesota is about as bubbly a team as there is in the country, with a 6-7 conference record and 15-10 tally overall. The win was more important for their post-season than the damage it did to Wisconsin's.
Monday, January 25, 2010
#4 Syracuse Rips #7 Hoyas at Carrier Dome
Big East rivalries don't get any bigger than the one witnessed Monday night by a national television audience (ESPN), as Georgetown headed north from the nation's capitol to take on the Syracuse Orangemen.
At the beginning, everything went Georgetown's way, with the Hoyas building a 14-0 lead. Once Syracuse got on track, however, it was game over, lights out, everybody down. The Orange stormed to a 34-29 lead at the break and opened up by as many as 20, eventually winning in a laugher, 73-56. Too quick and too physical for the Hoyas, Syracuse converted 21 of 28 free throws, compared to just 6 of 11 from the line for Georgetown.
Andy Rautins and Kris Joseph led the Orange attack with 15 points apiece. Joseph added 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals. Rautins dished 6 assists and had 6 steals.
Wesley Johnson had a superb all-around game with 14 points, 9 boards, 2 assists, 3 steals and 4 blocked shots, all while committing not a single personal foul.
Notable: Kansas, seeking their 54th straight home win, held Missouri to 27% shooting in the first half while building a 50-30 lead en route to an easy, 84-65 win. Cole Aldrich had 11 rebounds by half time as all 8 Kansas players who saw floor time scored, led by Marcus Morris with 11 points. Aldrich finished with 16 rebounds, 6 blocks and 12 points and was a key factor in Kansas' fast breaks with deft, deep outlet passes. #3 KU improved to 19-1, and 5-0 and sole possession of first place in the Big 12.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Upsets Predominant In Wide-Open ACC
The big news in the Top 25 Wednesday night was #24 Clemson's smashing performance over #12 North Carolina, in which the Tigers took advantage of 27 Tar Heel turnovers, including 14 steals, mostly by Clemson guard Tanner Smith and forward David Potter, each of whom had five. Clemson took an early lead and dominated the entire game, winning, 83-64. The win improved Clemson to 2-1 in the conference and a highly respectable 14-3 overall.
Later in the evening, two more upsets verified that the ACC, one of the top two or three conferences in the nation, was loaded with quality teams. Virginia slipped by 20th-ranked Georgia Tech, 82-75, while Virginia Tech was absolutely hammering #23 Miami, putting their offense on cruise control in the second half after taking a 50-23 lead into the break. The Hokies eventually finished off the Hurricanes with an 81-66 rout, improving to 13-2, as junior gaurd Malcolm Delaney hoisted up a game-high 28 points, to go with 9 assists and 4 rebounds.
All of the ACC upsets occurred on the home floors of the winners. With strong fan bases and generally loud crowds, college basketball presents one of the most challenging environments for visiting teams, especially in the hotly contested ACC.
The scramble already on at the top and middle ranks of the conference, all of the confusion adds to 14-2 Duke's strong position at 2-1, with their only ACC loss coming just this past Saturday, as Georgia tech stepped up for a 71-67 win. The Blue Devils' only other loss was to Big Ten powerhouse, Wisconsin, another 4-point defeat, making the Blue Devils just four buckets short of perfection at 14-2. Duke held court at home over Boston College, 79-59.
NOTABLE: Senior guard Andy Rautins led five doble-figure scorers with 23 points, as the #5 Syracuse Orangemen improved to 16-1 with an 81-65 spanking of Rutgers. Rautins had one of the best all-round games by a single player this season, grabbing 8 rebounds, dishing 9 assists and snatching 5 steals.
Pittsburgh, the only team to have beaten Syracuse this season, continued to vie for first place, going to 4-0 in the Big East - along with Villanova - with a 67-57 defeat of a highly suspect UConn team. The Huskies are already 2-3 in the conference and 11-5 overall. While it's still early in the season, the huskies have the look of a definite bubble team when time comes to pick the 65 competitors for the NCAA tournament.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Rautins, Johnson Lead Syracuse Past Tar Heels
Watch out for Jim Boehiem's Syracuse Orangemen this season. Ranked preseason as the 6th-best team in the Big East, the Orange took out two ranked opponents en route to capturing the championship in the Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic at madison Square Garden in New York.
After throttling Cal, 95-73, on Thursday, they routed North Carolina, 87-71, Friday night to improve their record to 4-0. (Big East teams were 41-0 before Providence and South Florida lost Friday night to Alabama and South Carolina, respectively.)
Syracuse was led by 6'7" junior forward Wesley Johnson, who sat out all of last season after transferring from Iowa State University. Johnson lit it up for a game-high 25 points, to go with his 8 boards. Johnson was 10-17 from the field, hitting 4-of-8 3-pointers.
The Orangemen had five players in double figures, but senior Andy Rautins was everywhere, scoring 11 points with 3 3-pointers, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 7 steals.
Syracuse, trailing 39-37 at the half, exploded for a 25-2 run to open the second half and take complete control of the game. North Carolina drew to within 8 points, but never threatened as the Orangemen employed their 2-3 zone to produce 18 Tar Heel turnovers.
NOTABLE: Tennessee's Scotty Hopson tallied 25 points for the second straight game, hitting 10-of-15 shots, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc, in a 105-66 win over East Carolina. The 3-0 Vols lead the nation in scoring at 104 points per game.