Syracuse v. USF — What we learned

Southerland's return makes SU a contender

Syracuse got a tough 55-44 win on the road over USF. Here are my thoughts from the game.

Orange Bench is a Huge Asset

The Bulls jumped out to a quick start, but when the starters came out and the benches came in, the Orange started to climb back. That’s because when Syracuse puts in its second line of players, it’s a group of guys who could start at a lot of other schools. Few teams in the country have the depth the Orange have and it’s going to help SU in a big way down the road. The Orange bench outscored the South Florida bench 19-4 today. With guys like James Southerland, Baye Keita and Jeremi Grant coming off the bench, Syracuse will have starter-level talent playing for 40-minutes.

The bench boosted Syracuse

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CJ Fair is this team’s most valuable player

He might not be the most talented player on the team but he’s definitely the most important. Why? Because of his consistency. No player has been as consistent from game to game as Fair this season. Carter-Williams, Triche and Southerland have had some huge games, but they’ve also had some quiet performances. That’s not the case with Fair, who has constantly put up points and crashed the boards. Against South Florida, he had 10 points and 10 rebounds. He’s averaging about 13 points per game and a team-leading 7 rebounds per game this season.

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Slowing the pace isn’t necessarily this team’s Achilles heel

The key to beating Syracuse is, and has often been, slowing down the pace of the game. But this season, that isn’t really the case. USF was extremely successful in slowing down the Orange tonight but it didn’t really faze them. Even in a half court set, the Orange found ways to score, which is different from past years. It’s important that the Orange find ways to score out of transition because we all know its Big East foe Georgetown will deny transition and slow the game down to a crawl.

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