Orange bounces back, beats Cincinnati
Tue, 24 Jan 2012 03:48:47 GMT —
Two days after its first loss, Syracuse played like a top team again.
Kris Joseph scored 17 points Monday night, repeatedly driving past defenders for layups, and No. 3 Syracuse recovered from its first loss of the season by beating Cincinnati 60-53 with an offense that attacked inside and a defense that had its way.
"We had to come into this game with a lot of focus," said Joseph, who scored 11 in the second half. "What's done is done. It was a tough night (at Notre Dame) for everybody. You can't let a loss lead to another loss."
The Orange (21-1, 8-1 Big East) used a late 12-2 run to pull away from the Bearcats (15-6, 5-3), who tried to use the energy of their first home sellout to get a signature win.
Instead, coach Jim Boeheim came away with career victory No. 877, moving him ahead of Adolph Rupp into sole possession of fourth place on the Division I coaching list.
He'll remember this one more for his team's grit.
"I told our players this was probably as good a regular-season bounce-back win that I can remember at Syracuse," said Boeheim, in his 36th season as coach. "We were just so woeful (Saturday) night. To come in here with that atmosphere to start the game and play the way we did I thought was tremendous."
Syracuse was coming off a 67-58 loss at Notre Dame on Saturday that ended the best start in school history and cost the Orange their No. 1 ranking.
"You have to go over bumps," guard Brandon Triche said. "When we played against Notre Dame, it was a bump. We didn't want to go over more of them."
That lone loss stuck with Boeheim, who couldn't believe his team had played so badly at Notre Dame and wondered how it would react two days later.
"I don't think I've ever had a game where not one guy did anything," Boeheim said. "Not only didn't they do anything, but they played badly - every guy.
"I watched the tape twice because I couldn't believe what I was watching - seniors making defensive errors, missing easy shots. It was just an awful experience. If we'd have played that way here tonight, we would have gotten beat by 30 points."
Instead, they quickly got back on their game. Their zone defense held Cincinnati to 53 points, matching its season low against Xavier.
Cashmere Wright had 17 points for Cincinnati, which suffered its first back-to-back losses of the season. The Bearcats were coming off an overtime loss at West Virginia on Saturday.
"If you've got an opportunity to close out a game, you've got to take it," power forward Yancy Gates said. "Because if the other team gets it, nine times out of 10 they're going to take it. We've got to do a better job of closing it out at the end."
The Bearcats wore throwback uniforms for their biggest home game of the season. Most of the 13,176 fans dressed in white, and the coaches wore white button-down shirts without jackets. Syracuse's late spurt sent them to the exits before the buzzer.
The Orange was missing 7-foot center Fab Melo for the second straight game. Melo is their top rebounder and shot blocker. The school hasn't disclosed the reason for his absence.
Syracuse leads the Big East with 78.9 points per game and 48 percent shooting, fueled by fastbreak layups off turnovers. Cincinnati kept it close until the late Orange run.
The Bearcats fed off the crowd's energy and made four of their first five shots from behind the arc, including three long 3s by Wright, for a 15-6 lead. They went cold after that and had trouble scoring consistently.
C.J. Fair had a fastbreak dunk and a baseline jumper during a 9-0 run that tied it at 15. Both defenses then dug in, keeping it close the rest of the half.
Syracuse never led during its loss at Notre Dame, unable to overcome a slow start. The Orange got their first lead Monday in the final minute of the half. Joseph had a driving dunk - he went past two Bearcats on the baseline - and Dion Waiters hit a pull-up jumper with a second left for a 28-25 halftime lead.
Cincinnati went inside to Gates at the start of the second half and got a lot of open shots. The power forward had three layups and a 15-foot jumper, scoring eight of the Bearcats' first 13 points in the half.
Gates had his best offensive game since returning from a six-game suspension for a brawl against Xavier, scoring 16 points.
Syracuse finally found its touch from behind the arc. Scoop Jardine hit a 3 with 9:30 left - the Orange had been 0 for 8 - and Triche followed with another during the 12-2 run that gave the Orange their biggest lead at 52-44 with 6:08 to go.
Another 3 by Jardine pushed it to 59-48 with 1:52 left, sending the white-shirted fans to the exits.