Syracuse, N.Y.—The Cincinnati Bearcats came into the Carrier Dome Sunday looking to make a statement for the upcoming NCAA tournament. Unfortunately for the Bearcats, it wasn't exactly the kind of statement they were hoping for.
On paper, the two teams were thought to be a close match with both coming into the game with identical 8-7 records in the Big East. But after Sunday's game, there was little question as to who was the superior team.
The Orange absolutely destroyed the Bearcats, 87-63, in front of 25,139 fans.
Syracuse jumped out to a 19-4 advantage to start the game. The Bearcats scored only two field goals in the first ten minutes and found themselves in a hole from which they would not be able to dig out.
The Orange's 2-3 zone completely baffled the Bearcats, who were out of the game down 40-17 at the break. Included in their first half fiasco was an embarrassing performance from three-point range, as they finished 1-for-17.
Syracuse was led by PG Jonny Flynn, who scored 17 points and dished out seven assists. Every Orange starter finished in double figures, with Paul Harris dropping 16, followed by 13 each from Eric Devendorf and Rick Jackson.
Syracuse reserve and crowd favorite, Kristof Ongenaet, continued his inspired play, pulling down a game-high nine rebounds and contributing seven points in 19 minutes.
The Orange played outstanding basketball from start to finish and were up by as much as 32 points late in the second half when they stretched the led to 74-42.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said after the game; " In this league you don't win games by a lot, I don't care who you play, rarely do you. You have to play tremendous defense and good offense to do that. In these two games we have played tremendous defense and really good offense, too."
Cincinnati was led by reserve guard Dion Dixon who scored 18 points to go along with five rebounds. No Bearcat starter scored more than 11 points as they finished a frigid 37.5 percent from the field.
Bearcats center Anthony McClain was charged with a flagrant foul in the first half after taking out Paul Harris on a breakaway dunk and was subsequently ejected.
In contrast to Cincinatti's dismal shooting performance, Syracuse finished a blazing 30-for-60 on field goal attempts for the game.
With the win over Cincinatti, the Orange have won three out of their last four games and improved to 21-8, 9-7 Big East.
Syracuse PG Jonny Flynn stated; " This should be a good statement for the selection committee. I think this shows how good we can be or how good we are going to be when we start playing like this on a consistent basis."
Up next for the Orange is Rutgers—Tuesday night at 9 p.m. in the Carrier Dome. The Scarlet Knights come in with a 10-19 record overall, 1-15 Big East.
Syracuse has now won their last two games by a combined 53 points after defeating St. Johns 87-58 on Tuesday.
The 'Cuse seem to be peeking at the right time and hopefully won't overlook Rutgers as they eye their season finale with a trip to Marquette. It has all the makings of a trap game, but luckily they get to play in the Dome, where they have only lost three times this season.
During halftime of Sunday's game, Syracuse retired the jersey of Billy "The Bullet" Gabor, who played for the Orange back in the '40s. Gabor was an All-American for the Orange and an NBA all-star for the Syracuse Nationals, a team he led to a championship title in 1955. He was the first player to score 1000 points at Syracuse, and still remains in the top 30 of all-time.
His No. 17 will now hang from the rafters with former Orange greats, like Dave Bing, Sherman Douglas, Derek Coleman, Pearl Washington and Billy Owens, the latter of whom had his number retired last season.