Syracuse had an easy time against DePaul last night. It wasn’t quite the 107-59 beat down from last year but it also wasn’t the 59-57 nail biter from the year before that. It was a solid win as the Orange improve to 15-0 and will remain No. 1 in the polls.
The Blue Demons pressed nearly the entire game and while that might not seem like a good idea against a team with veteran guards and a deep bench, if you saw DePaul’s offense you’d understand. DePaul shot 31 percent in the first half but did manage a few buckets off of turnovers. They had no answer for the 2-3 zone, hitting on just 3-of-18 3-pointers and having trouble scoring inside with Fab Melo swatting away 5 blocks.
Speaking of Melo he experienced another first in his SU career. Against Seton Hall he set a Syracuse record with 10 blocks and had a career-high 12 points. He had another solid game with 12 points (on 6-of-7 shooting), 6 rebounds and 5 blocks. But the first I’m talking about came when he subbed out of the game with 4:08 remaining. He had just swatted a shot off the backboard that led to a Scoop Jardine layup and while he was heading to the bench Jim Boeheim actually smiled at him. And this wasn’t a typical sarcastic Boeheim smile. This was a “you done good” smile. What a difference a year makes.
What a difference a game makes. Kris Joseph laid an egg against Seton Hall in the scoring department but was the leading scorer with 22 last night. Joseph played aggressive and took the ball to the rim. It’s what Syracuse fans have always clamored to see. Of his 15 shots, 9 were on layups and he scored 15 of his 22 in the paint (including FTs). But this doesn’t necessarily mean Joseph will continue in attack mode. DePaul’s zone lent itself to this type of offense as he often found himself in 2-on-1 situations while attacking the rim.
The press also contributed to the Orange turning the ball over 12 times in the first half. Syracuse shot 66 percent in the half but that’s the result of DePaul’s gambling resulting in layups. If you factor in those 12 turnovers and count them as missed shots (and they’re basically worse than misses because there’s no chance of an offensive rebound) their shooting percentage down to the low 40s.
The Orange cleaned it up in the second half though. After 2 turnovers in the first minute, Syracuse turned it over just twice more in the final 19 and one of those came from Brandon Reese in walk-on time.
The turnovers against the press were disconcerting and a team like Louisville won’t be as offensively inept as DePaul. But a 19-point win against a Big East team is nothing to scoff at.