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postGame: Syracuse 69 Villanova 64

Game ended approximately 9:17 PM eastern time.  Syracuse Orange defeat Villanova Wildcats 69-64.  Some notes on the game are below.

-The rematch between the Wildcats and Orange began with Corey Stokes introducing himself back into the starting lineup with a early three pointer.  Villanova took a 6-0 lead, but Syracuse countered with a 13-1 run on the heels of ice cold shooting by the home team. 

-The poor shooting continued for the Cats, as they missed 18 of their first 19 field goal attempts.  The Orange were able to stretch their lead to 7 points on a few occasions, but could never really open up a real sizeable advantage. 

-Down 27-20 with just under two minutes left, Villanova closed the gap as a result of some questionable lane violation calls on back-to-back Isaiah Armwood free throws.  Jim Boeheim certainly did not agree and received a technical, which allowed Nova to get back within a bucket heading into half, despite the team's offensive woes. 

-Halftime score: Syracuse 29 Villanova 27

-The Cuse opened the second half by knocking down their first three shots and eventually extending the advantage to 6.  After Villanova sliced the deficit to 2 points with fifteen minutes left, the visitors went on a 13-5 run to open up their largest lead of the game at 9 points. 

-With the Cats on the verge of letting the game slip out of reach, Corey Stokes began to get warm from the field and the foul line. The good guys trailed only 1 with five minutes and change remaining, but Philadelphia native Scoop Jardine hit the twenty-point plateau on a crucial trey at the four minute mark to put the Orange up 5.

-Yet again, Nova did not back down easily, as Stokes drained his 5th bomb of the game to get the Cats within 1.  Syracuse responded with two buckets to go back up 5 points, but Stokes hit another tough shot to leave Villanova down 3 points with forty-eight seconds on the clock.  Two Armwood free throws brought Villanova back within a single point, and after it looked like Villanova had Syracuse trapped on the inbounds, Jardine was able to find a teammate, Dion Waiters, streaking down the court.  A hustling James Bell fouled Waiters hard on a dunk attempt, and Waiters knocked down both free throws, which gave Cuse a 67-64 lead with fourteen seconds to go.  On the ensuing Villanova possession, James Bell tried to pass cross court at the 3 point line, but the ball was deflected and grabbed by Rick Jackson to essentially seal the victory.

-In terms of stats, Corey Stokes had a great game in his return from injury, scoring 24 points, including 5-10 from deep.  Isaiah Armwood played extremely well too, as he had 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks.  Antonio Pena chipped in 7 points and 10 boards.  As a team, Villanova shot 32% from the field, 20% from downtown, and 63% from the charity striple.  Syracuse had better numbers in each of these categories.  Individually for Syracuse, it was the Philly duo leading the way, as Scoop Jardine notched 20 points and 6 assists, while Rick Jackson provided 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 blocks. 

-General observations:

  • Can't expect to win when you only make 1 field goal in the first eleven minutes of the game and when only 1 player makes a three pointer for the entire game.  Other than Corey Stokes, the rest of the Wildcats were 0-15 from beyond the arc, including Corey Fisher's 0-8.
  • I was very impressed with Corey Stokes, especially since he hadn't played in a game in about 2 weeks.  I was more impressed though with Isaiah Armwood, who has become a true force on this team as a role player.  The sophomore does all the little things, whether it's offensive rebounding, guarding bigger forwards, blocking shots, etc.  He also knows his role on the offensive end, only taking high percentage shots close to the basket, which leads me into my next point.
  • Dominic Cheek's offensive game has regressed a ton from last year.  The kid cannot make a shot outside of 8 feet, but he still continues to jack up attempts from deep.  Some may like that he's trying to break out of his slump, but enough is enough.  He should not be shooting near the arc unless there isnt a guy within 10 yards of him.  If not for his defensive abilities, he would be glued to the bench.
  • Uncharacteristically, the Cats shot themselves in the foot with their poor free throw shooting tonight.  We usually take it for granted that they will make most of their free throws, but Villanova just didn't have it tonight from the line. 
  • Hate losing to the Orange, hate losing at home, and hate losing on Senior Night.  Must win on Saturday at home vs. St John's with road dates at Notre Dame and Pitt to follow?  I'd say so.