Ryan Boatright, Brandon Triche

Should Syracuse be concerned after loss to UConn?


HARTFORD, Conn. — Getting James Southerland back was suppose to be a lift for the No. 6 Syracuse Orange. He did with 4-for-9 shooting from behind the arc for 14 points.

However the rest of the Orange shot a 0-for-14 from three, en route to 35 percent shooting night from the field. In the last game against UConn as Big East opponents, Syracuse lost 66-58 — the team’s third loss in five games.

UConn took away a lot of the Syracuse offensive. Ryan Boatright applied pressure on Michael Carter Williams, who had only one assist and four turnovers. The Huskies also held Brandon Triche, the Orange’s leading scorer with only nine points.

“Good players have bad nights,” said Jim Boeheim. “He’ll bounce back.”

Triche shot 3-of-15 from the field, thanks in large part to Napier and the UConn help defense.

“I was just trying to do as much as I can,” said Shabazz Napier on guarding Triche. “I wanted to play him with as much respect as possible, but at the same time try to stop him from doing as much as he can.”

Syracuse didn’t get many of the lob passes inside and the fastbreak was held to a screeching halt with only four transition points.

“They got a lob the first minute and I was like, ‘Oh boy,'” said Kevin Ollie. “But I don’t think they got anymore.

“To hold a team with this much talent to 35 percent, that’s big time.”

Syracuse  corralled 20 offensive rebounds, forced 18 turnovers and still lost. Granted the Huskies had a great shooting night. But the shots were created by Napier and Boatright driving the lane and finding open shooters.

“Our defense was good,” said Boeheim. “It broke down at the last second. They got the ball to the open shooters and knocked them down.

“They got a couple of good looks in the run and I thought that was the difference.”

Napier had four turnovers, while Boatright had three, however they combined for 11 assists. Defensively the duo held Carter-Williams and Triche in check, which was the key to the game.

For Syracuse, who holds a one game lead atop the Big East standings, the upcoming schedule is favorable, but only for a little bit. Following back-to-back games against Seton Hall and Providence, the Orange play No. 15 Georgetown, on the road at No. 18 Marquette and a rematch against No. 12 Louisville. Syracuse ends the season with four of the last five games against ranked opponents.

People in upstate New York may not be concerned yet with the Big East leading Orange, but they have reason to start.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.