Villanova vs. Syracuse: Score, Grades and Analysis

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIDecember 28, 2013

SYRACUSE, NY - DECEMBER 28:  C.J. Fair #5 of the Syracuse Orange goes up for two and is fouled by Darrun Hilliard #4 of the Villanova Wildcats while also being defended by James Bell #32 of the Villanova Wildcats in the first half on December 28, 2013 at The Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

It's often said that basketball is a game of runs. The concept was clearly on display in the first half of the Syracuse Orange and Villanova Wildcats game. The No. 2-ranked Orange withstood a furious start from the No. 8-ranked Wildcats to prevail 78-62 on Saturday at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.

James Bell and others made a bevy of outside shots early for Villanova. At one point, the Wildcats led by 18 points, but Jim Boeheim's team kept its cool. From the midway point in the first half to the intermission, the Orange's Tyler Ennis and Trevor Cooney took over.

Syracuse improved to 12-0 and handed 'Nova (11-1) its first loss of the season. Cooney led the Orange with 21 points and Bell paced Villanova with 25.

Here's a closer look at Syracuse's big win on Saturday.

 

Nova Starts Strong

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Behind Bell, a senior guard, the Cats outscored Syracuse 20-5 in the first eight minutes of the game. The three-point shots were raining down in a major way. Bell had three in the first five minutes. He finished with six long-distance connections in all.

Unfortunately for Villanova, the threes stopped falling, and it wound up making just 10 of 31 as a team.

 

The Orange Respond

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Ennis was a steadying force the entire game for Syracuse, but it was the sophomore Cooney who sparked the Orange's response to Villanova's opening run. After the Wildcats' fast start, Syracuse went on a 22-5 run, and Cooney was big.

He made three treys in the last 11 minutes of the first half. As much as his shooting provided a boost, his energy and confidence were equally as responsible for his team's comeback.

As a team, Syracuse was 7-of-13 from distance.

 

Too Much Size

Syracuse out-rebounded Villanova 33-26, and it's size advantage proved to be too much down the stretch. Nova's misses from deep continued to pile up, while Syracuse limited it to one shot during key stretches.

 

Grades

 

Tyler Ennis, A-

Dec 28, 2013; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange guard Tyler Ennis (11) scans the court around Villanova Wildcats guard Darrun Hilliard (4) during the first half at the Carrier Dome.  Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Playing head-to-head against his brother Dylan Ennis, Tyler showed why he is perhaps the best freshman point guard in the nation. At times he looks like Andre Miller, but just when you put him in that box, he explodes and shows off his underrated athleticism.

He had just two assists, but his 20 points were big and came in the flow of the offense. This kid is pretty good.

 

Trevor Cooney, A

Dec 20, 2013; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange guard Trevor Cooney (10) takes a jump shot during the second half of a game against the High Point Panthers at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse won the game 75-54. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Cooney is a gunner with no conscience. He missed his first two threes but hit five of his next six attempts from deep. In addition to his 21 points, he also had three rebounds and three steals.

 

C.J. Fair, B+

 

Dec 28, 2013; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange forward C.J. Fair (5) drives to the basket past Villanova Wildcats guard James Bell (32) during the first half at the Carrier Dome.  Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

After starting slowly—like every other member of his team—Fair's mad dashes to the rim and all-around play stood out. He made five of 12 shots from the field, including two threes. The 6'8" senior also had six rebounds.

He did have five turnovers, but most of them came early in the game.

 

James Bell, A

 

Dec 28, 2013; Syracuse, NY, USA; Villanova Wildcats guard James Bell (32) drives to the basket past Syracuse Orange forward Rakeem Christmas (25) and guard Trevor Cooney (10) during the first half at the Carrier Dome.  Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TO
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

When all of his teammates went cold, Bell was the only player for Villanova who kept playing at a high level. He made seven of his 16 shots attempts from the field and helped keep his team in the game through most of the second half.

 

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