Simply the Best

Kris Joseph and Arinze Onuaku lead No. 3 Syracuse to a 22-1 record and the team's best start ever with an 85-68 win over Providence.

Prized Syracuse forward Wesley Johnson went down hard to the floor eight minutes into the first half, but the story of the night was reserved for the flight of a sophomore standout and senior staple. 

Kris Joseph scored a career-high 23 points and Arinze Onuaku added a season-best 20 as the Orange squashed the Providence Friars 85-68 to improve to a school-best 22-1 record.  

Photo: Andrew Burton
Syracuse center Arinze Onuaku played a major role in Tuesday's 85-68 victory over Providence, scoring 20 points and snagging seven rebounds.

“A.O. was the most active he’s been all year,” SU Coach Jim Boeheim said. “He hasn’t been having the kind of year we need from him." 

Onuaku asserted himself in the low post early on, scoring 10 of the team’s 18 points to open the game. 

“They started off with a matchup zone so we tried to go high-low on them,” Onuaku said. “The goal was just to dominate them inside.”

As SU extended its lead to 18-12, the Carrier Dome faithful received a scare. Johnson crashed to the floor while trying to convert a dunk after Brian McKenzie undercut him midair.

“I got my body twisted,” said Johnson. “I was going to take the fall. I didn’t want to stick my arm out.”

A battered Johnson struggled to his feet and returned to the game following a timeout. 

Even with Johnson at less than full strength, SU continued to pull away from the Friars. The Orange jumped out to a 37-26 lead fueled by Johnson’s assertiveness and capped off by an Andy Rautins three-pointer. 

Those 37 points at the 3:26 mark of the first half would be SU’s last points of the half.

Providence capitalized as the Orange went cold from the floor. Vincent Council went on an 8-0 run of his own to close out the first half, trimming the Syracuse lead to three. 

The Friars knifed through the SU zone and connected on several buckets along the baseline as the half progressed. With defenders out of position to help on penetration, the undersized Friars were active on the glass, outrebounding Syracuse 22-16 in the first half.

SU reversed last week’s storyline and opened the second half in much the same way Georgetown and DePaul had in their first halves against the Orange.

“The last couple of games we got down early because we didn’t play defense,” Onuaku said. “We stepped it up on that end in the second [half].”

Onuaku scored three quick baskets and Triche added a three-pointer to jolt a 9-0 Syracuse run to begin the frame.

“There is no one on their team, no one in the country that can stop A.O.,” Joseph said of his teammate. “When he really decides he wants to score, he will.”  

Johnson, who showed no symptoms of a serious injury, took himself out of the game early in the second half. 

“I was fine out there running and jumping,” he said. “But I felt there was no need to try to push it or overdo it so I told coach to take me out.”

With Johnson out, another SU forward needed to fill the void.

 Rising star Kris Joseph did that and more.

Joseph scored 13 of his 23 points in the second half, contributing to a 22-5 spurt which helped the Orange pull away from the Friars. 

“The defensive intensity really picked up in the second half,” he said. “We had to shut it down, and I think we did a really good job of it.”

Boeheim, usually guarded with praise, was impressed by his team’s effort on both ends of the floor.

“This was the most active we’ve been on offense and defense,” he said. 

The Orange will travel to Cincinnati Sunday for an afternoon date with the Bearcats, 14-7 (5-4). 

And SU plans on playing at full strength.

“I’ll be playing,” Johnson said with a smile.

Follow @newshousesports for in-game updates, and Orange news.

Syracuse's Kris Joseph scored a personal best 23 points against Providence, plus nabbed seven rebounds against Providence. (Photo: Andrew Burton)


Remember, because of the hip injury last year, Mookie is a red-shirt freshman. He didn't play much last year, and when he did he wasn't at 100%. My understanding is that he's playing well in practice, but until his defense improves a bit, he's not going to see a lot of minutes. I doubt he transfers. Give the kid a chance...we all know he's got skills and he's confident. Look for him to step up big time next year like Kris Jo has this year. We'll need an outside threat with Andy graduating. Keep it up Mook!

@ Playing Bench

Hey check out boheims's interview on answers that question..basiaclly said mookie isnt great at handling the press and didnt want another WVU..its a good interview check it out! god bless

@playing bench.

I just listened to jimmy b's interview via where mike waters asked this question to which jimmy responded that Mookie Jone's weakness is breaking the press...he basically said he was not comfortable with putting mookie in that position especially after the WVU game..i wondered the same thing and Jimmy B's response seemed logical and helped me understand.its a good interview check it out! God Bless

Mookie Jones

I also disagree with Boeheim's not giving Mookie a chance to develop in games. I don't see him in practice every day, so I could be wrong about this, but in the games that I saw him he performed well on both ends of the floor. Is Boeheim trying to get him to leave, because he thinks new recruits will be better?

Don't fix what isn't broken

I see where you're coming from Vincent but the last time I checked, we were 22-1 and #3 in the country. In the Big East, there really is no such thing as a run away game because any team is capable of going on a big run at anytime. When it comes down to it, we don't need a one dimensional player (3 pointers) to come in and make plays for us. Mookie can shoot the 3 well but his defense is lacking. Our defense this year is the kind that can turn a game around which we saw against Georgetown and Depaul. We basically have 7 starters that can play both offense and defense. Mookie came in with a lot more hype than Kris Joseph and now Kris has surpassed Mookie and is emerging as a potential star. Coach B knows what he is doing, and maybe he is seeing something bad in Mookie during practice that we can't see and that translates to less/no playing time. And I don't see him getting much more playing time next year with the amazing recruiting class we have coming in. It wouldn't surprise me to see him transfer.


There's a reason why Jimmy's name is signed on the court. I think he knows what's up.

I agree with you, Mookie

I agree with you, Mookie Jones development has been stunted the last month. He did some good things in a tight Seon Hall game earlier this season. I'm not sure why Jimmy doesnt give this guy 4-5 mins/game. Our two worst games this year, Depaul and Pitt, were also Rautins worst games this year. We could use another threat from the outside.



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