Kris’ cross makes Orange jump, jump!

Fifth-ranked Syracuse (25-2, 12-2 Big East) remained unblemished on the road this season, holding off No. 10 Georgetown (18-7, 8-6), 75-71, in Washington, D.C. Thursday night. It was Syracuse’s first win on the Hoyas’ floor since 2004.

It was opposite night at the Verizon Center. And with one quick Kris Joseph crossover, it was back to the Same-Game for Syracuse:  one team has a huge lead, lead evaporates, Orange win, masses complain about officials.

In the Carrier Dome on Jan. 25, it was the Hoyas who smacked SU in the face with a 14-0 run at the start of the game, led by sharpshooting guard Austin Freeman. On Thursday night in the nation’s capital, it was the Orange who opened an early 14-point advantage as their sharpshooter, senior captain Andy Rautins, punched in 10 early points.

Before Vice President Joe Biden (1969 SU law school grad) and an orange-tinted crowd of 19,976, the SU lead grew as large as 23 (60-37, 2nd half). Then it happened again, just like against UConn and Louisville: the Orange see a lead evaporate, final seconds appear on clock and Kris Joseph steps Kris Joseph driving against Louisville.into the light.

In the win over UConn, Joseph (pictured) released deep on the in-bounds against full-court pressure, got intentionally fouled and made the game-sealing free throws. Against Louisville on Sunday, Joseph scored four late points to get the Orange within two but then fouled Jerry Smith hard enough for the referee to signal an intentional foul. The Cardinals would steal the victory on Valentine’s Day.

Thursday night, the Orange (25-2, 12-2 Big East) held on to a thread-thin 71-70 lead and the ball. The Hoyas chose not to foul (there was six seconds between the game and shot clock) and Syracuse gave the ball to Joseph. The springy sophomore, who played prep school ball at Archbishop Carroll in D.C., snapped off a quick crossover dribble on Hoya center Greg Monroe, and dashed to the rim for the lay-up.

Rautins, who lead all scorers with 26 points, was hot to start the second half, using a 1-move (single dribble of catch, right into a jump shot) going left to can a pair of triples. Syracuse opened a 19-point lead with Rautins’ second three-ball in as many possessions, and most of the national TV audience (including ESPN’s Dick Vitale), thought the game was over.

                                                                                                            (Photo by Zach Ornitz)

The son of SU great Leo Rautins, Andy Rautins moved into second place all-time at Syracuse with 251 3-pointers (moving past Preston Shumpert).

At this point, all the Hoyas (18-7, 8-6) had to their credit was more foul trouble – superstar Monroe picked up two fouls early in the first half, imploring head coach John Thompson III to go offense-defense with Monroe. The big Louisianan notched his third foul at the start of the second half and the groans filled the MCI Center.

Freeman was ice cold, missing an easy 3-pointer from straight on that barely hit the left iron. He would finish nine-of-20 from the field with 21 points.

ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews reported mid-game that SU forward Wes Johnson did not slap high-five with teammates, protecting his hand. It worked in the first half to the tune of 10 points, six rebounds and five blocks. It was a different story in the second half, as the Hoyas’ limited Johnson to just two points on two free throws (he finished with 16 points, eight boards and the five swats).

“It’s good. It’s getting better,” Johnson told Donna Ditota of The Post-Standard about his right hand. “I didn’t try to think about it as much when I was out there playing. But it’s getting better.”

The Orange turned to Rautins, its prizefighter (analogy goes well with new boxing trunks SU wears). The same sight of Rautins wriggling on the ground occurred Thursday: he got nailed on a screen (close to the family jewels), and then in the second half blocked a Chris Wright lay-up, but caught a wayward elbow in the nose. Rautins had little appreciation for Wright, jawing with the Hoya enough to earn both players a technical foul.

Georgetown found a pulse and snuck a 10-0 run past Syracuse. A Scoop Jardine turnover infuriated Boeheim into more yelling and time-out calling. All he wanted was to get Rautins the ball.

Rautins swung back with a deep 3-pointer (his fifth of the night) and the Orange went up 63-47 with over 8 minutes remaining.

With Biden looking nervous, and as pensive as the Dome has been all year, biting finger nails as the lead dwindled to eight points after a Clark corner 3-pointer.

Asleep for much of the game, Freeman got loose after a turnover by SU guard Brandon Triche for lay-up. The Orange, strapped by foul trouble, unveiled its matador defense and the Hoyas ohlayed by for a 25-3 run to get within 65-60. .

Freeman found an easy path to the rim past three SU defenders, going to the rim and converting the old-fashioned three-point play as the foul prone Orange parted like the Red Sea. Jackson picked up his fifth foul, receiving the disqualification with 12 points and eight boards.

The same transcript occurred on the next possession: SU turnover, Freeman fastbreak bucket (a monster one-hand dunk at 3:13), and more Orange timeouts with Boeheim yelling at people.

It was not long before both Orange big men fouled out, forcing just the second Big East appearance for SU freshman center DaShonte Riley. Monroe smelled blood, attacking the vulnerable Orange backline, yet could not convert at the charity stripe, missing four of five. Mistakes are contagious – SU gave up offensive rebounds on two occasions, the last Monroe got himself and called timeout with 1:07 left and the Orange up 71-70.

On the ensuing possession, Georgetown patiently swung the ball four times before dribble penetration by Wright created an open shot for Clark. His heave clanged off to the right, and the ball fell out-of-bounds. Up stepped Joseph with the game-winner (he accounted for five of the last six Orange points), and out stepped Syracuse with another road victory and the double-bye in the upcoming Big East Tournament.

“I faked left and went right and Monroe fell for the move,” Joseph told The Post-Standard. “I saw Chris Wright’s hand, so I kind of cradled the ball. By the time, I got to the basket, it was just me and the basket.”

NOTES: The last win in for the Orange in Washington, D.C. was in 2004 when Kueth Duany found Gerry McNamara curling on a screen for a miracle three-pointer and the win … As for the fellas in stripes, 54 free throws and 48 fouls kept the brake on this game…Wright was one of three Hoya scorers to tally 20 points (Monroe and Freeman the others), while posting a game-high five steals.

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