The Syracuse Orange survived a tough contest from former Big East foe, St. Johns, during a Sunday matinee at Madison Square Garden. The 68-63 win pushes the Syracuse record to (10-0), while St. Johns fell to (6-3).
When push came to shove, Syracuse knew where the ball was going, while St. Johns toiled around the perimeter with turnovers and bad shots. It wasn’t just the final moments that produced stellar defense on both teams.
Both teams combined to make two three point shots. However, St. Johns took 16, while Syracuse only took seven from beyond the arc. Neither team got into a great rhythm offensively for long stretches. That may be due to the 43 fouls called in a 40 minute game.
Still, Syracuse shot 52 percent from the field compared to St. Johns’ 35 percent.
Syracuse, led by Tyler Ennis, had a 12 point halftime lead. Ennis finished with 21 points, but did most of his damage in the first half to put the Orange in good position. After a C.J. Fair free throw to start the second half, Syracuse looked to be in command of the game.
Then St. Johns played the way they were capable of playing.
After a sluggish start, the Red Storm mounted a second half comeback with an array of skillful shots from De’Angelo Harrison and Jakarr Sampson. St. Johns tough pressure defense contributed to a spirited run. It culminated with a 60-58 lead with under six minutes left.
However, C.J. Fair went to work down the stretch on the right baseline to hit huge bucket after bucket. Along with Ennis, Fair scored 21 points and they both came up big on the offensive end.
Defensively, Syracuse bogged down the St. Johns offense down the stretch. The Orange held the home team to five points in the final 7:20 seconds of the game. While credit should go to Syracuse, St. John’s made critical unforced turnovers with the game in the balance. They also took bad shots without finding the open man.
Jerami Grant helped seal the win with a two handed volley block at the rim. The sophomore forward continues to progress, and he’s due for a couple highlight plays per game.