Fair and Ennis shine as Orange win 10th straight game

Tyler Ennis dominated the first half to give the Orange a big lead, but C.J. Fair finished strong to push Syracuse past St. John's.

Playing at Madison Square Garden for the first time since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Orange was able to pull out a 66-61 victory over former Big East foe, St. John’s. SU finished with a 10-3 scoring run to end the game, thanks to the hot hands of senior C.J. Fair and freshman Tyler Ennis.

Photo: Chris Janjic
Jerami Grant grabs a rebound under the net during Sunday's game against St. John's.

The No. 2/3 Orange (10-0) avoided a major upset to keep its undefeated season alive and stay atop the rankings with the No. 1 Arizona Wildcats. Just like the Orange, the Wildcats had an equally close game Saturday, securing a 72-70 victory over Michigan.

The game started quickly for Syracuse as it set the tempo and direction of the first half with Ennis at the helm. Ennis scored 15 of his first 21 points in the first half, consistently taking the ball to the basket. That effort to drive to the basket paid dividends for Ennis, as he also finished the game with 10-for-10 from the free throw line.

Ennis’ strong first half gave the Orange a comfortable 39-27 lead going into halftime. But the second half told a different story for the Orange, as the Red Storm gradually cut into the lead to three points with a little over nine minutes remaining in the contest.

Momentum shifted back and forth throughout the next few minutes as neither team extendeda lead by more than three until the last three minutes of the game. At that point, C.J. Fair took over, as he hit back-to-back jumpers to help keep the Orange ahead for good.

“It was a great game.” Head Coach Jim Boeheim said.  “I liked the first half a lot better than I liked the second half.”

The stellar play of Fair was the only thing keeping the Orange offense afloat in the second half, as he hit key jumpers and made a couple timely assists. He scored 11 of his 21 points in the second half, much of those shots coming off of screens and isolation plays.

Fair’s offensive dominance helped extend the lead, but it was a key defensive stop by Jerami Grant that helped put the game out of reach for the Red Storm. With St. John’s down 68-63 with 33 seconds remaining in the game, forward JaKarr Sampson drove down the baseline looking to capitalize with an emphatic dunk. Grant met the ball at its height, and with two hands threw the ball to the ground. That play sealed the game for the Orange and gave the SU faithful a collective sigh of relief.

The Orange’s next game will be against High Point on Friday in the Carrier Dome. 

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