Syracuse Staves Off Wildcat Charge and gets the Win

By Matt Josephs
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse overcame their typical first half sluggishness to push past Villanova 72-61. The team did a good job pushing past the bad news they got before the game about James Southerland to get the win.  They now have the week off before playing at Louisville next Saturday. Let’s look at what the Orange did right and wrong.

1) Rebounding was an issue as they allowed 18 offensive rebounds to the Wildcats who shot 31% from the field, but were still in it up to the end when Syracuse pulled away.  The team got eight rebounds from their three big guys Rakeem Christmas, DaJuan Coleman and Baye Keita.  The latter saw only five minutes of action despite Christmas’ foul trouble.  Rakeem had four points on four shots and was unable to build too much off his stellar effort last time out.  Coleman saw an uptick in time and scored six points in the process.

2) Jerami Grant’s first audition to fill Southerland’s shoes went smashingly.  Grant had 13 points and five rebounds in 29 minutes.  He even impressed his coach who said after the game, ” He kept us in the game and made three field goals. He played well defensively. He made a big basket in the second half and it was right in there. I thought his defense was good the whole game.”

I’ve said in these articles time and time again that Grant’s an explosive player who needs more time. It’s unfortunate that it took a player being taken out of the lineup for that time to come.

3) Michael Carter-Williams put up another clunker when it comes to shooting the ball.  Carter-Williams is almost sure to come out for the NBA draft, but he needs to fix that shooting percentage before he can get drafted much higher.  In four games this month, he is 15-for-48 which won’t cut it.  Of course when you see he went 29-0f-80 in December, then you don’t think it’s as bad.  He did have seven assists to only three turnovers.  The facilitating part of his game has not taken a break.

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