witEach 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. 3, Syracuse’s 78-62 win against Villanova in the Carrier Dome on Dec. 28.
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse never looked fazed after facing its largest deficit of the season.
After Villanova buried four straight 3-pointers to take a 25-7 lead midway through the first half, it appeared Syracuse was on its way to its first loss of the season. But Syracuse regrouped quickly in a battle of top 10 undefeated teams.
Syracuse clamped down on defense, forcing nine straight misses after the Wildcats had hit five of their first six shots. Villanova also turned the ball over three times.
“When it was 25-10 we got two traps on defensive plays that we got turnovers on and got in transition,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “We just kind of eased into it and then our defense picked up. They really didn’t get a lot to look at the last ten minutes of the first half, they didn’t get a lot of looks.”
The offense followed.
The Orange ripped off 20 unanswered points and took a 27-25 lead with 4:52 left in the first half. Syracuse’s starting backcourt led the way after Tyler Ennis (20 points) and Trevor Cooney got going. After the Orange went down 18, the duo combined for 18 points the rest of the first half, with Cooney hitting three 3-pointers.
“We fell back and going down to a team like that is tough. It showed a lot about us tonight,” Cooney said. “We didn’t want to get down so much, but then we were able to come out and get some stops and get a lot of big buckets.”
SU went into intermission leading by four, and opened up a double digit lead after going on a 9-0 run early in the second half. Villanova never seriously challenged SU the rest of the way.
WHY IT’S NO. 3: Syracuse aced its first test of the season against the No. 8 Wildcats. While the Orange had won its first 13 games, they played mostly inferior competition. The Wildcats were no such thing, and handed SU its biggest deficit of the season to that point. Instead of panicking, the Orange calmly regrouped, and demonstrated the poise of a team that would go on to be the No. 1 team in the country. The game also represented a nostalgic throwback game to the old Big East days.
Check in next week as we reveal No. 2 on our countdown.