Written for your enjoyment by: Raff
Second round action from Buffalo awaits...post your thoughts in the comments section
12:18 - Didn't like the first segment of action. Gonzaga clearly was the better team. They seem more prepared - more focused on the task at than than the Orange. Syracuse looks tentative and is settling for jump shots. Wes Johnson has made a few and just got a key offensive rebound and putback - plus a foul. The Bulldogs don't seemed bothered at all by the zone. I was hoping that Scoop Jardine might bring some attack to the Orange offense and for the most part he did. But I don't like this start.
12:25 - That was much better for the Orange. And again the catalyst was Jardine. He just makes the offense a little bit better - especially in this up-tempo stuff. The zone bothered Gonzaga a little bit more that time, but they are finding a way to get behind it some - and getting easy baskets. We'll see if Syracuse adjusts to that - and if Gonzaga has an answer for the adjustment. I said 86-68 before the game. I feel a lot better about that now. But the Orange needs to build off the momentum it just started.
12:35 - It's a six point game and the Orange basketball at the U8 timeout. Rick Jackson has three fouls, but it hasn't bothered the Orange yet. I wonder if SU would go to a Kris Joseph in the center of the zone - like they did in MSG for the 6OT game last year? I still like the offense better when the ball is in Jardine's hands. The next 7+ minutes will be pivotal - I'd like to see some seperation, but with Jackson on the bench - keeping the lead where it is might be the most you can ask for. Also, time to get Wes back involved.
12:46 - The seperation came - The Orange pushed it to double digits 10 - and then Gonzaga either refocused or the Orange relaxed a little bit. The lead is six at the U4 - but Gonzaga is at the free throw line. Syracuse needs to keep getting to the rim and creating offensive chances. This is the first time in the tournament that they've missed/needed Onuaku. But Sacre having two fouls has helped to even things out a bit. Finish the half strong is a key - and get KJ going.
1:13 - Syracuse finished the half strongly. A 15-point halftime lead is the result. Gonzaga got a tip-in to close to that margin 47-32. Brandon Triche played well - he shot it very well - and he got to the rim a few times which really helped. Also a tip of the hat to Deshonte Riley - who really did well defensively - and didn't kill the Orange at the offensive end. He kept one miss alive which led to points and he made a good pass to Triche to pick up an assist. Gonzaga is real bothered by the zone. If they don't find Harris on the baseline - they are clueless. Syracuse needs to maintain focus and keep the space between the two teams. If Gonzaga is able to make a little run - they will start to believe that will happen. The Orange needs to prevent that.
1:30 - It's all over in Buffalo. There is still 15:10 on the clock - but its Over. 62-36 Orange lead - and this is the team that we saw through the first 30 games of the season. Butler is next - another mid-major - another Bulldog. Butler will provide more of a challenge.
1:35 - The reason the game in Salt Lake concerns me a lot more than today's is that Butler's strength is in its defense. They won't have the athletes - and maybe a little less athletic than this Gonzaga team - but they can lock it down defensively. They were ferocious in the come-from-behind win over Murray State yesterday. Hopefully, AO can go - because having both he and Jackson inside will provide difficulties for the Bulldogs. Kansas State - who really impressed me yesterday is one of the other teams making the trip to Salt Lake. The Wildcats will play the Pitt/Xavier winner - which comes later today.
1:40 - No signs of letup. The Orange is piling it on. Up 30 at the U12. Sharing the basketball and knocking down open jumpers. Not sure we've mentioned Andy Rautins today. He has, ho hum, 22 points. This team has been very sharp today. Expect to see a lot of Mookie Jones, James Southerland and Dashonte Riley from here on out.
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