Three thoughts from SU vs. St. John's

Melo returns and the No. 2 Orange roll

Jim Boeheim is now tied for third with Dean Smith on the all-time wins list with 879 career wins after Syracuse (23-1, 10-1) cruised past St. John’s, 95-70 on Saturday. Fab Melo, in his first game back from reported academic issues, scored a career-high 14 points. The Orange shot 56 percent from the floor and out-rebounded the Red Storm (10-13, 4-7) in a dominating performance at Madison Square Garden. Here are three thoughts from the game:

1. Michael Carter-Williams gave Syracuse fans a glimpse of what they’ll see in the future...

 The freshman from Hamilton, Massachusetts hasn’t seen the floor much in Big East play. Carter-Williams is still learning how to play defense in the Syracuse zone and hasn’t played enough minutes to get into a rhythm offensively. That changed today, though. He confidently shot threes without hesitation - going 3-of-4 from beyind the arc - and was poised with the ball. Carter-Williams even threw down an impressive dunk, showing some unexpected explosiveness. He still took unnecessary gambles on defense and dribbled into a couple double-teams, but overall, Carter-Williams showed progress today. Last spring, scout Tom Konchalski told me Carter-Williams “scores like we breathe.” We haven’t seen that side of him this year, but expect to see a more aggressive and confident MCW in the future.

2. The Syracuse offense is unstoppable when they get into the open floor...

 In the last four games, SU is averaging only 65.25 points per game, a far cry from its season average of 77.4. Teams are slowing down the pace and making Syracuse play a half-court game. Today, that wasn’t the case. The Orange forced only 11 turnovers, but were still able to get out and run. Syracuse was scoring with ease in transition which opened up the floor in the half-court. When the Orange are running, everything else falls into place.

3. But they’re still taking too many three’s...

Syracuse got out of its scoring funk but it wasn’t because of smart or efficient shooting from deep. On the season, the Orange are shooting 34 percent from long-range, and today, the struggles continued. Syracuse made 7-of-21 from three, but still managed to light up the scoreboard because it shot 65 percent from two. It’s important to take more of those higher percentage shots rather than settling for deep threes, like teams are forcing the Orange to do. 

Photos by Allison Milligan

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