No. 3 Syracuse will likely rise to No. 1 in the polls after Saturday’s 85-50 win over George Washington. The Orange had little trouble against the Colonials, as six different Orange players scored at least eight points.
Earlier in the day, No. 1 Kentucky lost to Indiana, 73-72, after the Hoosiers’ Christian Watford nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. No. 2 Ohio State fared no batter, as it was downed by No. 13 Kansas, 78-67.
“It’s nice,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “These kids have worked hard. Whatever happens, happens.”
The Orange last rose to the top spot in the NCAA in March of 2010, but it lasted only a week, as SU lost to Louisville in its second game as the No. 1 team. Prior to that, Syracuse was ranked No. 1 back in the 1990 season.
On Saturday, Syracuse played like the No. 1 team in the country, shooting 50 percent from the field. It was a welcome sign from the Orange, which had shot 40.6 and 41.5 percent from the field in its last two games against Florida and Marshall.
Dion Waiters led the Orange with 19 points, six steals, five rebounds and four assists. Fab Melo also turned in another solid effort, with eight points, six rebounds and three blocks.
“In practice, when we run plays and play against each other, everything is working,” Waiters said. “Our offense is going to get better and better each day.”
The Orange was also stellar on defense, limiting George Washington to 30.6 percent shooting. Syracuse forced 18 turnovers, including 11 steals.
SU will need that kind of effort if it wants to stay at the top spot for longer.
“It’s exciting to finally be No. 1,” Scoop Jardine said. “But the thing about us is that we want to be No. 1 after our last game.”
Corey Mallonee contributed to this report with reporting from Syracuse.