Syracuse defeated Rutgers 78-53 to open Big East play as Jim Boeheim earned his 903rd career win to pass Bobby Knight for second all-time. Here are some thoughts from the game:
Where did this team come from?
After losing to Temple and struggling against Alcorn State, Orange fans were wondering how good this team actually was. Syracuse showed up tonight, the team we all expected to show up at the beginning of the season. But can this play continue? I find myself asking, which team will show up to the next game? If the Orange can harness whatever it was that got the team going tonight, SU will be tough to stop.
Interior defense was incredible.
The most pleasant surprise for me was the incredible interior defense. Rutgers doesn’t have a dominant big man, but even a dominant big would have struggled against the D the Orange played inside today. Stats don’t really do the defense justice, but nine blocks are a small indication of how strong the team played. Whenever Rutgers retrieved a rebound or fed the ball inside, two or three Orange defenders would immediately collapse. And with the size and length of this team, those situations are nearly impossible to get out of. It resulted in blocks, missed shots and turnovers.
Can’t just settle for three-pointers.
It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns for the Orange tonight. The first 12-minutes of the game weren’t great. The team hit its first few three-point shots and then didn’t stop taking them. This team’s strength is inside and when the team settles from deep, it struggles. There’s no need to take 22 three-point shots in a game, especially when the team isn’t shooting well. The only thing that saved the team’s percentage was Triche’s incredible 5-for-7 performance from beyond the arc. He was on fire.