Syracuse University’s men’s basketball team beat their first round opponent Montana in the NCAA’s San Jose ‘pod’ of the East Bracket, winning by the final score of 81-34. Any dreams of an upset were crushed early and with authority in both halves of the game.
- The First Half
The Orange came out firing on all cylinders on offense and defense taking advantage of size and athleticism to take a 38-15 halftime lead. They were led in the half by senior guard Brandon Triche with 12 pts., 1 board, 3 assists, 4 steals with 2 turnovers. Junior forward CJ Fair had 11 pts., and 2 rebounds and senior forward James Southerland chipped in 7 with 2 boards and an assist/ Michael Carter Williams had 6 assists, a steal and 2 points while Christmas and Keita each had 2 blocks and a lot of intimidation. These stats tell the first half:
Syracuse: 18 rebounds, 11 assists, 6 steals, and 4 blocks.
Montana: 13 rebounds, 1 assist, 5 steals, and 1 block.
Syracuse also was getting several fast break opportunities from their defense while Montana was tentative in the paint as Syracuse flexed their muscle and size advantage. Syrcause’s Brandon Triche had a Flagrant 1 for moving his elbows faster than his body and catching an opposing player in the nose which by rule, was true. There was however a no-call on a hard foul from behind on Triche on a steal and fast break on the ensuing possession.
- The Second Half
Bonus of the second half was a glimpse into the future. The freshman and sophomores all got some minutes and showed that the Orange have a solid base moving forward. Freshman DaJuan Coleman finally saw some game minutes and responded with 12 pts., 5 rebounds; redshirt frosh Trevor Cooney played hard again and netted 7 pts. and 2 boards, freshman Jerami Grant hit for 5 pts., 8 rebounds and 2 assists. Sophmore Rakeem Christmas had 9 and 4 while sophomore MCW finished with 4 pts. with 9 assists and 7 rebounds. Senior Brandon Triche finished with 20. No one from Montana scored more than 5 points.
Syracuse kept their orange sneakers directly on Montana’s chest and never let them up. They opened the half with a 17-4 run. You saw it on the Grizzlies faces as they looked shell shocked and based on the teams’ pre-game comments, it didn’t sound like they expected to lose this game.
- Next Up: California
Syracuse will face a bigger and better shooting Cal team in the second round in what is basically a home game for the Golden Bears. How a 12 seed gets a home game is questionable, but in this day and age of rewarding mediocrity, it’s not worth getting into that one.
Cal beat fifth seeded UNLV 64-61 in what really can’t be called much of an upset. These teams knew each other like Syracuse and Connecticut know each other. The win was sweet revenge for UNLV’s win at Cal recently.
So who are they? Cal is 21-11 and went 12-6 in the Pac-12. They beat Oregon twice, beat Arizona, and have all the ingredients to give Syracuse a hard time in a home game. Check out the roster and the size:
Cal Golden Bears Roster
- 15 Bak, Bak 6-9/240 Forward SR
- 14 Behrens, Christian 6-9/225 Forward SO
- 1 Cobbs, Justin 6-3/190 Guard RS JR
- 23 Crabbe, Allen 6-6/210 Guard JR
- 41 Frid, Geoffrey 7-1/235 Center FR
- 10 Galvin, Garrett 6-4/198 Guard FR
- 20 Johnson, Kahlil 6-7/206 Guard FR
- 45 Kravish, David 6-9/221 Forward SO
- 24 Kreklow, Ricky 6-6/210 Guard RS SO
- 21 Powers, Jeff 6-7/223 Guard RS JR
- 22 Rodriguez, Kaileb 6-9/225 Forward FR
- 12 Smith, Brandon 6-0/180 Guard SR
- 35 Solomon, Richard 6-10/235 Forward JR
- 34 Thurman, Robert 6-10/265 Forward SR
- 3 Wallace, Tyrone 6-4/186 Guard FR
So what to expect? Not a replay of Syracuse’s game against Montana. This team is a 12 seed in no one’s mind other than the NCAA selection committee. Syracuse, with some rested players and a game under their belt should have an answer for this one, but a home game is a home game for Cal.