1. Syracuse likes to play fast.
When the Bulls of University of South Florida slowed the game down in the first 10 minutes of the first half, SU had a hard time scoring, rebounding, playing defense, or doing much else. But when the players sped up the play, they scored... a lot. SU went on a 27-0 tear that spanned 10 minutes and both halves. Still, as soon as they slowed the game down again, USF came back and went on a 9-0 run of their own. Syracuse is a run first team. Dion Waiters said Syracuse is dangerous, because as soon as the players get a tip or a rebound, they already have a guy or two running down the court. When teams like USF slow the pace of the game down, Syracuse struggles getting into the rhythm, because the players have to slow down, too, and watch as everything comes at them. Once Syracuse decided it needed to speed things up, the game was blown open. But as soon as the players took their foot off the gas, the game became a lot closer and almost slipped through the fingers.
2. Syracuse always has players that will step up when they are losing.
Wednesday night’s game was a terrible shooting performance for the Orange. Kris Joseph shot 29 percent from the floor, only scoring 12 points. Fab Melo shot 25 percent and only made one basket. Brandon Triche didn’t make a field goal and only had three points from the free-throw line. However, players like Scoop Jardine (6-of-10 for 15 points), C.J. Fair (4-of-10 from the field and 5-of-6 from the line for 13 points) and Waiters (3-of-6 for 9 points) allowed Syracuse to regain the lead in the game. Plus, when a player like Joseph or Melo isn’t feeling it on offense, he almost always makes up for it on defense. Joseph had six boards, including two crucial ones late in the second half. Melo had six boards, in addition to six blocks. Coach Jim Boeheim said that although Melo didn’t shoot well, his performance was key because he changed shots and blocked USF from scoring. So no matter who "isn’t feeling it" or who doesn’t have the hot hand, SU’s depth always allows a player to come out and have a fantastic game.
3. C.J. Fair is a beast.
First of all, Fair scored the first five points of the game for the Orange. The guy can dunk like no other, he can rebound, he can score, and he can steal the ball. Fair had a team-high five steals in Wednesday night’s win to go along with his six rebounds and 13 points. Probably the most important thing we saw tonight from Fair was that he doesn’t give up. When he went down hard and hurt his knee after a dunk, he bounced right back four minutes later, still playing extremely well. Needless to say, the sophomore forward has earned his starting role next season.
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