PHILADELPHIA — A quick take on Syracuse’s 75-71 wild overtime loss to Villanova on Saturday afternoon, its last Big East game in Philly before a nice-sized crowd of 18,273 that made its way to the Wells Fargo Center for an 11:00 am tip-off and got bonus basketball to watch:
WHAT HAPPENED: After a shaky first half in which SU missed 22 of its 31 shots, and Nova (13-7, 4-3) raced out to a 10-0 lead while later putting the Orange (18-2, 6-1) down by their largest deficit of the season at 12 points, SU came back to tie the game early in the second half, and it was back and forth the final 15 minutes of regulation before Nova’s Ryan Arcidiacono sent the game into overtime with a corner three-pointer with three seconds to play. In OT, Villanova guard James Bell’s two three-pointers were the dagger that did in the Orange.
ANALYSIS: When you hit shots, it’s easy, right? After struggling again in the first half versus the Wildcats pesky defenses, the Orange got the transition game going, did a better job on the boards, and hit key shots by Brandon Triche and C.J. Fair (28 points combined) down the stretch. But in OT, the Orange “D” could not find Bell for his two long three-point baskets.
HERO: He’s arguably the best big man on the team right now, the freshman is growing before our eyes each game. Forward Jerami Grant scored the first seven points of the second half to begin to change the momentum to a back-and-forth game, on route to 12 points, five rebounds, an assist, and a steal before fouling out with 5:22 to play.
ZERO: The Syracuse big men. While Rakeem Christmas was active underneath with nine points and eight boards, Baye Moussa Keita was in foul trouble throughout and had zero points and rebounds before joining Grant on the bench with five personals, and DaJuan Coleman has not been making any sort of contribution after ceremoniously starting each game.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse has its sixth, and final, full week off of the season before traveling to play at Pittsburgh on Sat., Feb. 2 at 12:00 p.m. TV: ESPN. The Orange are 1-5 all-time at Petersen Events Center, the only win (49-46 in OT) coming in Feb. 2004, Pitt’s first defeat at ‘The Pete’ which opened in 2002.Brad Bierman