The main concern coming into this game against NC State was that the Syracuse Orange could not and would not be able to shake the curse of number one teams this season.
Every previous number one team in the nation lost in their first true road game of the season. With all of the criticism that Syracuse received this week for never traveling on the road (a fallacy), an outsider would have thought North Carolina State could have been the favorites.
At the end of the day, when the Orange won the game 88-72, the Orange showed that they deserve their No. 1 ranking, thanks to the help of their “family connection.”
Cousins Scoop Jardine and Dion Waiters showed their dynamic ability as the two guards took control of the game. Waiters energized the entire team and during the Orange’s 23-0 run at he end of the first half, Dion’s play attacking the rim and passing the ball around the perimeter and inside created plays that led to huge Orange plays.
Most of the time, Waiters found James Southerland for three a good amount of the time and the end result was a Syracuse offense that could run both transition and half-court offenses effectively.
Waiters would finish with 22 points, but once again, Scoop Jardine turned it on in the second half.
Jardine, held to only two points in the first, flipped on his motor and scored 14 in the second. Jardine was able to find his stroke and made three-point shots as well as long-range jumpers that let Syracuse pull away to their final lead.
Once again, Kris Joseph found his way to 21 points in a consistent all-around performance that complemented the excellent guard play of Jardine and Waiters. Fab Melo’s defensive struggles definitely hurt the Orange early on and helped C.J. Williams get his 25-point performance going early.
Do the Orange deserve their number one ranking?
Overall, looking at Syracuse, this team continues to impress and show why they should make a serious run for the title.
They shot 56.5 percent from the field—par for the course. The defense’s length led to steals, while Waiters continues to look like the lightning rod playmaker for the Orange. C.J. Fair and James Southerland look like the best bench players in the country that give the Orange an edge no other team really possesses.
Simply put, the Orange look dominant. Syracuse will be challenged and are more than likely to drop at least one during Big East play. However, Jim Boeheim and company continue to show why they are just talented as anyone in the nation and perhaps use their talent better than any other team.
The Orange forced the ESPN experts to take notice tonight. If every game from here to March will be played like this, the Orange should be ready for a return trip to the Superdome.