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. 4, Syracuse’s 68-63 win against St. John’s in New York City on Dec. 15.
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse used to call Madison Square Garden its second home. Now, it will be a place where they play the occasional non-conference game.
Playing at Madison Square Garden for the first time as a member of the ACC, the Orange had to rally past former Big East foe St. John’s, 68-63.
Syracuse has had plenty of fond memories at the Garden, where the Big East used to play its conference championship. The Orange won five conference tournaments during that time, most recently in the 2005-06 season. Fans and alumni used to pack the Garden, filling it with orange colored apparel.
But SU left for the ACC following the 2012-13 season, and the conference hosts its tournament in Greensboro, NC. Trips to New York City, which were a regularity, will become no more than a once-a-season trip.
Syracuse made the most of that opportunity.
Trailing by a basket with 6:53 left, Fair came off a screen on the right baseline and drained a 15-footer to tie the game at 58. The Orange would go to their reliable senior two more times down the stretch, and Fair would deliver each time on that same play.
The last jumper came with 1:41 left and gave SU a 66-61 lead, and put the game out of reach. Fair and Tyler Ennis would each finish with a game-high 21 points.
“We went to CJ, and he made a couple of tough plays,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “He’s going to get the ball and these opportunities, and he’s prepared for that.”
WHY IT’S NO. 4: 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.
Check in next week as we reveal No. 3 on our countdown.