Game Notes: Georgetown at Syracuse
Syracuse is good. Final Four contender good.
by Rachel Stern
The boisterous sea of orange fell silent.
Just three minutes into the No. 4 Syracuse-No. 11Georgetown rivalry at the Carrier Dome, the crowd of 26,508, who could be heard chanting “Hoyas suck,” before tip off, had nothing to say.
Georgetown came out firing, as Austin Freeman hit three buckets from beyond the arc and the Hoyas jetted out to a 14-0 lead at the 16:57 mark.
After an intense timeout by Jim Boeheim, Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph entered the game, and the Orange never looked back.
“On the bench I was just seeing what we were lacking and I knew I had to get in there and be aggressive,” said Jardine, who finished with 9 points and 4 assists. “Me and Kris have been doing that all year, just giving us that spark we need and that makes us a scary team.”
The super tandem off the bench did just that, and a couple steals and buckets later, the Orange strung together an 18-6 run to close within two with eight minutes to play in the half.
What started as an 18-6 run, morphed into a 34-15 run for the remainder of the half, as the Orange took a five-point lead into the half. Led by the speed and athleticism of Jardine and Joseph, Syracuse used their trademark defense-to-offense transition game to bury the Hoyas as they cruised to a 73-56 win.
Two hours before tip off there are around 20 students seated in the student section. Just 30 minutes later the student section, located behind the basket Georgetown will shoot on first, is flooded with Orange.
Students hold up giant faces of Boeheim, Wes Johnson and longtime Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine.
The ESPN crew is at the dome for the Big Monday game. Jay Bilas, Bill Raftery and Sean McDonough are preparing for the big rivalry game.
Greg Monroe looks like the new NBA center. He is long, lean and at 6’11 could cause problems for Syracuse inside. In pre-game warm-ups his footwork looks amazing. The big man is agile and only a sophomore.
The energizer for Syracuse off the bench, Joseph, looks ready to go. He gives everyone in sight a high five as he skips around the court.
You can tell this is a huge game, as even freshman point guard Brandon Triche, who is normally stoic, is bouncing around bopping his head to the music playing in his headphones, as he sings along.
Freeman’s jump shot looks so smooth. The junior from Maryland leads the Hoyas in scoring at 15.6 points per contest. He nails three pointer after three pointer with his high release and arced shot almost floating through the air.
Monroe makes his presence felt immediately, as he grabs a pass from Rick Jackson intended for Arinze Onuaku. Freeman capitalizes, as he drains a three from the left corner for the first bucket of the game.
Boeheim has seen enough just one minute into the game, as he pulls Jackson and inserts instant energy off the bench in Joseph.
After two more three’s from Freeman and a three from Jason Clark, the Hoyas are out to a quick 14-0 lead, as they whip the ball around the perimeter of the Syracuse zone. With 15:29 left in the first half, Freeman has nine points and the Hoyas are a perfect 4-4 from beyond the arc.
After an angry timeout and the entrance of Jardine, the Syracuse zone is much more aggressive. The guards are pushing out further and the Orange is trapping in the corners. After a rare Jardine three ball, Triche spin and lay-in and a Johnson short jumper off the glass, the Orange storm back and cut the Hoya lead to 18-12 with 11:21 to play.
Jardine is really the difference maker. He slices through the lane for a lay up, steals the ball and pulls up for the foul line jumper and after an Andy Rautins steal, he gives it up to, you know who, Jardine, who converts a tough tear drop over Georgetown defenders. Former Syracuse forward Derrick Coleman, sitting right under the basket, waves his white towel and ignites the previously silent crowd. John Thompson III calls a much needed timeout with 8:15 to play in the half and the Hoyas clinging to a two-point lead.
After Clark and Rautins exchange three-point field goals, Monroe finally asserts himself and cashes in on a lefty lay-up. But, Jackson answers for the Orange inside, as he connects off a pass from Johnson and lays it in on the left side. At the 4:36 mark, the score is 27-23, in favor of the Hoyas.
After the teams exchange buckets, Joseph drives the lane aggressively, draws defenders and zips it inside for Onuaku who hammers it down with two hands, sending the crowd, and Coleman, into a frenzy.
During the media timeout, the speakers blare “Kiss Me,” and the jumbotron shows Bilas, Raftery and McDonough all getting kisses from Syracuse cheerleaders.
The first Syracuse lead comes with 2:16 to play in the half, as Johnson hits two free throws to put the Orange up 30-29. The Hoyas have cooled off and Freeman has been kept in check. That 14-0 lead has been all but forgotten.
After a pair of lay ups from Johnson and Joseph, Syracuse heads into halftime with a 34-29 lead.
Syracuse really turned up the pressure on defense and forced Georgetown into turnovers and tough shots. The Hoyas have 10 giveaways at the half, compared to only five Syracuse turnovers.
Freeman remained scoreless after the first five minutes of the half. The Hoyas cooled off as a group and after going 4-5 from beyond the arc nine minutes into the game, at the half they are 5-10.
The Syracuse bench players, Jardine and Joseph, really were the difference makers and sparked the comeback. When they entered, things changed. Especially Scoop, as he picked up the pace and pushed the ball up court, finding the open man and shooting a perfect 4-4 from the floor.
Rautins is proving he is not just a shooter, as the senior guard heads into the half with six points, three steals and four assists.
Georgetown did not go inside enough, as they didn’t attempt a single foul shot the entire first half.
The Orange continue to build momentum, as Rautins steals the ball on the first play of the half, gives it up to Johnson, who fires a diagonal pass into Onuaku who slams it down on the left side.
The Syracuse big men assert themselves early, while they not only hound Monroe every time he touches the ball, Onuaku even hits a free throw and Jackson gets a board off his own miss and puts it in. Syracuse extends its lead to 10 with 15:56 to play in the game.
Monroe sees at least two Orange defenders every time he touches the ball. The Hoyas struggle to get it inside, and are forced to pass around the perimeter. They have 12 turnovers and cannot get anything going on the offensive end.
After a Freeman miss from behind the arc, Jardine drives the lane hard to the right and rifles in a perfect diagonal pass to Joseph lurking on the baseline. Joseph throws it down, Thompson is forced to call a timeout, Jardine bumps Jackson in mid-air, and the Orange storm out to a 50-37 lead with 13 minutes to play.
Coleman loves what he sees from the tandem of Jardine and Joseph, as he stands and waves his white towel in the air.
While Georgetown is struggling on the offensive end, Syracuse is on fire, shooting 57.1 percent from the floor with 12 minutes to play.
After a beautiful Monroe lefty runner, the center looked like a guard, Johnson puts on a show of athleticism. He blocks two Hoya shots in a row and ignites the crowd. On the other end Rautins rewards Johnson, as he completes a three-point play and extends the Syracuse lead to 15 with 10 minutes to go.
Just when Georgetown shows some sign of life, as Wright drives and kicks to Clark who hits a three, Onuaku throws it down again and gets fouled off of a beautiful no-look shovel pass from Jardine. With two Hoya defenders jumping to Johnson, Onuaku was left alone and Jardine saw him immediately.
Johnson tallies another block, this time off a Monroe drop step lay up, and with six minutes to play this one seems to be all but over, as it is 59-45 Syracuse.
Monroe sets an illegal screen and fouls out with 6:27 to play. The big man struggled all night, as the Syracuse defenders swarmed him on every catch. Georgetown seems to be stuck at 45 forever, and with three minutes to play Syracuse is up 17.
The fans begin to file out, as Syracuse finishes one of their most impressive victories of the season, defeating Georgetown 73-56.
– Boeheim on the giant cut-out of his head in the student section: “I don’t even like to look at my face when I shave. I ignore the cut-out at all costs.”
– Rautins on Johnson’s impressive blocks: “Wes is a freak and it is just tremendous to have a guy with that athletic ability on your team.”
– The Syracuse bench (Scoop and Joseph) outscored the Georgetown bench 24-0.
– Boeheim on the play of Scoop and Joseph: “Scoop and Kris were great. We have seven guys who could start and some teams don’t even have five.”
– Austin Freeman finished with 23 points and Jason Clark finished with 15 for the Hoyas. Wright only scored 7 points, he averages 15.1 a game. Monroe finished with eight before fouling out.
– Kris Joseph finished with 15 points, three steals and two assists off the bench. Scoop had nine points and four assists. Rautins led the Orange with 15 points, six steals and six assists. Wes Johnson had 14 points, 9 boards and 4 impressive blocks.
– 53 points were the second lowest total for Georgetown this season.
– The win gave Boeheim his 819th win, passing Jim Calhoun for sixth all-time in Division I.