NEW YORK — A quick take on Syracuse’s 68-63 win over St. John’s in Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon:
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse saw its double digit second half lead vanish, with St. John’s taking a 60-58 lead with 5:48 after an Orlando Sanchez layup. But freshman Tyler Ennis, who had just taken an ill-advised 3 (which missed) and committed a silly transition foul, came back with a pair of free throws and layup which put Syracuse back on top. On the ensuing Syracuse possession, CJ Fair hit a baseline jumper to put SU back up 4 with 3:00 left, and they would not relinquish the lead for the rest of the game.
ANALYSIS: There was a lot of chatter as to who was “New York’s College Team” in the days leading up to this game. The Red Storm, who has been largely dormant in this rivalry over the last decade having lost 7 straight to the Orange, certainly made a push for that title, giving the Orange all they could handle in the second half. With head coach Steve Lavin bringing two highly touted recruiting classes over the past few years and Syracuse set to play the Johnnies in non-conference play over at least the next two seasons, the rivalry can still retake the form of the 80s and 90s. It certainly felt that way on Sunday, with a 60-40 edge to the Orange fans in the seats with the fan bases going back and forth with each crucial play in the second half.
HERO: CJ Fair finished with 21 points, including two huge jumpers from the baseline to put the game out of reach. In his first time at Madison Square Garden, Ennis was wild at times, but spectacular when it was needed, finishing with 21 points, six assists and three rebounds.
ZERO: Trevor Cooney has been a large reason why the Orange came into the game undefeated, but he was non-existent, missing all three of his shots. He was benched midway through the second half and had little impact on the outcome.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse returns home to host High Point on Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Carrier Dome. TV: ESPN3.