Taken by itself, you’d think that Syracuse had lost.
Kris Joseph, its best player and top scorer, had just gone scoreless on the night, going 0-for-6 from the field. And the opponent wasn’t a cupcake either. Seton Hall had just won eight straight games and came in with an RPI in the top five.
But Syracuse didn’t lose. Nor did they squeak by the Pirates.
In fact, the Orange dominated Seton Hall, cruising to a 75-49 win in its first conference game of the season.
“I think we have enough guys that if someone has an off game, we have guys that will pick it up,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said to reporters following the game.
Among those who picked it up was Fab Melo (12 points, 10 blocks, seven rebounds), Dion Waiters (15 points) and CJ Fair (nine points, eight rebounds). It was just another example of the depth SU has this season, as 10 different players played nine minutes or more.
What was even more impressive about Syracuse’s depth was that it wasn’t just Joseph who struggled.
Fellow senior and starting point guard Scoop Jardine was mostly quiet, finishing with five points and four assists.
“I didn’t play to my capabilities,” Jardine said. “My teammates, what more can I say about how deep we are? When one guy falls, the others pick him up. We are scary on offense.”
They’re even scarier on defense.
Syracuse collected 17 steals and 15 blocks, while forcing 23 turnovers. It also held Seton Hall to 31 percent shooting from the field.
“I thought our defense was as good as it has been all year,” Boeheim said. “It was an incredible defensive effort.”
In particular, the Orange keyed in on Herb Pope, Seton Hall’s leading scorer and rebounder at 20.3 ppg and 11.4 rpg.
Pope didn’t come close to reaching those numbers on Wednesday night, as he had just four points, nine rebounds and six turnovers.
“At the end of the day we just have to buckle down and play our game and we know the offense is going to be there,” Waiters said. “Our main focus is about defense. The defense leads to consistency.”