Each Thursday over the summer, The Juice Online will be counting down the top 10 moments in the 2013-14 basketball season. We continue our countdown with No. 5, Syracuse’s 74-67 win against Baylor in Maui on Nov. 28.
WHAT HAPPENED: The play is simple one.
CJ Fair runs from baseline to baseline, dragging his defender through a maze of elbows and bodies in the process. The set is enough to clear enough daylight for Fair to launch his patented mid-range jumper.
With Boeheim’s perfect record at Maui on the line, Syracuse went to their most reliable play with their most reliable player, and rode it to a 74-67 win over Baylor and the 2013 Maui Invitational Title.
Fair finished with 24 points and was named tournament MVP after averaging 18.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 6 stls and 3 asts. The win also improved Syracuse’s record to 9-0 in Maui.
“And guess what?” Boeheim said after the game. “I’m never coming back.”
Syracuse led by double digits for most of the second half before Baylor went on a 12-2 run to pull with four with 7:28 left. The teams traded baskets for the next four minutes until Cory Jefferson’s jumper pulled the Bears to within 66-60 with 3:09 left.
That’s when Fair went to work.
On the ensuing possession, Fair came off a double screen and drained a silky mid-range jumper to put the Orange back up eight. After Jefferson scored again, Boeheim called the same play, and, predictably, got the same result.
Trevor Cooney would hit four free throws to put the game out of reach.
“This,” Boeheim said, “was a really good tournament for us.”
WHY IT’S NO. 5: There were plenty of questions about Syracuse heading into the Maui Invitational. Boeheim worried about where the offensive would come from after a scare against St. Francis. Fair was the only proven returning scoring option, and there were plenty of variables around him. But Boeheim got his answers after playing three games in three nights. For starters, Jerami Grant emerged as a legitimate second option behind Fair, scoring 19 points for the second straight night on a variety of impressive drives. Ennis proved he could be a lethal scoring option after he struggled with his shot early on. Cooney was hitting from downtown throughout the Invitational, but also was able to score by getting inside on a night when he was just 1-5 from distance. For three early games, Syracuse fans got to see the potential of SU’s offense.
Check in next week as we reveal No. 4 on our countdown.