The No. 3 Syracuse University men's basketball team (10-0, 8-0 home) used its stingy defense to blow past George Washington University (4-5, 1-3 road) in the Carrier Dome Saturday, 85-50. The Orange forced 18 turnovers and held the Colonials to just 31 percent shooting from the field. With No. 1 Kentucky and No. 2 Ohio State losing this weekend, the win should vault Syracuse to the top of the rankings Monday.
Sophomore guard and birthday boy Dion Waiters paced the Orange with a career-high 19 points to go with four rebounds and six steals. Fellow guard Michael Carter-Williams also had a strong performance coming off the bench. Although he only had five points, Carter-Williams had a career-high eight assists and zero turnovers.
“The guards coming off the bench had really good games,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said.
Previously, Carter-Williams had struggled with turnovers and a lack of comfortability with the Syracuse offense, but Boeheim praised his play today.
"He’s [Carter-Williams] running the team and being a good point guard,” Boeheim said of the freshman.
George Washington was led by junior forward David Pellom who scored 12 points and collected seven rebounds. Juniors Dwayne Smith and Lasan Kromah also hit double-digits, scoring 10 points each. The Colonials out-rebounded Syracuse, including 17 offensive boards, but GW struggled to make long-range shots. The team shot 3-18 from deep and were clearly bothered by the length in the Syracuse zone.
“That’s something when your not a great offensive team, you’re going to have to rebound the ball,” George Washington first-year head coach Mike Lonergan said. "At least there was some effort on the glass, that was one positive.” Lonergan was clearly impressed with the Orange. “[They’ve got] good coaching, good team, and great depth and great crowd.”
Syracuse now has some much welcomed time off until its next game.
With the coming exams and Big East schedule looming, “we need it [the break],” senior guard Scoop Jardine said.
“It’s always tough going into exams, got to maintain this [playing level],” Boeheim said. “[We have to] work hard to keep ourselves on an upslope heading into NC State.”
Although he’s not one to typically care about hype or rankings, Boeheim seemed pleased about the Orange’s spot atop the rankings.
“It’s nice, these kids have worked hard,” he said.
Waiters called the ranking “just another number beside our name," but he did later say, “I think we earned it.”
The Orange’s first game outside of New York will be December 17 against NC State. SU knows that this will be a tough game, especially with the target on their backs as the likely top team in the nation.
“It’s going to be tough, we know we’re going to have to come out and really be together,” Jardine said.
Even with the potential number one ranking, Syracuse isn’t satisfied just yet.
Waiters said, “[We] still got ways to get better and more mature as a team.”