A quick take on Syracuse’s 78-57 win over DePaul on Wednesday evening:
WHAT HAPPENED: After a lethargic start, the Orange seemed to remember who they are—and who they were playing—riding stellar play from Michael Carter-Williams and CJ Fair en route to an easy victory over one of the dregs of the Big East.
ANALYSIS: The Blue Demons, losers of 15 of their last 17, jumped out to an early lead thanks to a combination of quick ball movement and an early 17-10 margin on the boards. The Orange’s lackluster effort led to a number of irate substitutions from head coach Jim Boeheim, including an early hook to Fair after he failed to secure a defensive rebound.
With 7:31 left in the half, DePaul was hanging tough and Syracuse was on the wrong end of a 24-20 game. But then the Orange seemed to wake up, ripping off a 15-0 run to go into halftime up 35-26. SU held DePaul at arm’s length the rest of the way, and order was restored to the universe.
HERO: On Senior Night, the junior Fair (16 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks) stole the show early. He and Carter-Williams were the only Orange playing well through much of the first half, with Fair riding his tricky inside game, along with some timely putback dunks, to 11 first half points, 7 of which came during the Orange’s decisive 15-0 run. Carter-Williams (10 points, 4 assists, 4 steals, 5 rebounds) was aggressive going to the rack, finishing in traffic and hitting the floor for loose balls. He also did a good job of pushing the tempo in a game made choppy by fouls.
Brandon Triche went for 15 points on 4-9 shooting, though he seemed out of sync for much of the night.
ZERO: The Orange showed a bizarre and disturbing inability to finish easy dunks and layups. Rakeem Christmas was a major culprit, blowing several easy looks in close. But it was by no means limited to him. James Southerland was actually the Orange’s leading scorer with 22 points, but he had a rough shooting night (5-18, 1-10 from 3). But he went 11-11 from the line and also pulled down 10 boards, the majority off his own misses.
On the DePaul end, it’s hard to pick out an individual player. As a team, the Demons were just overmatched both in talent and athleticism, and shot just 37 percent on the night, turning the ball over 18 times and actually getting outrebounded after their aggressive start.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse will close out the regular season when it travels to Washington, DC to play Georgetown on Saturday, March 9 at noon. TV: ESPN.Corey Mallonee