Michael Carter-Williams, Derrick Wilson

Syracuse’s back court struggles becoming a major concern

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It was just five weeks ago that Syracuse went into Louisville and knocked off the then-No. 1 Cardinals, a game that thrust the Orange into the midst of the national title picture and made us all wonder just who the best team in the Big East was this season.

At that point, it was the Orange.

It’s a different story now.

Syracuse has gone 5-5 since that win over Louisville. Despite playing in a Big East that has as many good teams at the top half of the league as ever, the Orange has notched just a single quality win since then*. That was against Notre Dame at home. And after losing at No. 22 Marquette 74-71 on Monday night, all of a sudden the No. 12 Orange look like a shell of their former selves.

*(Please don’t try to argue Cincinnati as a quality win. That was Cashmere Wright’s first game back from the knee injury that has devastated the Beatcat’s season.)

Exactly one month ago Monday, Syracuse was the only team in the Big East conference without a loss in league play. Nine games later, they are 10-5 in the conference, two games behind first place Georgetown and in danger of missing out on the double-bye. They still have to play Louisville at home on Saturday and pay a visit to Georgetown a week later.

The problem isn’t James Southerland; he’s been back for a few weeks now. DaJuan Coleman probably could have helped slow down Davante Gardner and his 24 points on Monday, but I’m not sure how much of a difference he would have made during the Otto Porter Show on Saturday.

Where Syracuse has really been hurting is in their back court. Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams, who looked like arguably the best back court in the country back in January, have struggled mightily.

If you factor out the 29 point explosion that Triche had against Seton Hall on the 16th (which, ironically enough, saved Syracuse from getting upset by a team that’s currently 2-13 in the Big East and considering firing their hed coach), he’s averaged  just 12.6 points while shooting 34.0% from the floor and 15.9% from three over the last eight games, a stretch that has featured five Syracuse losses. Michael Carter-Williams hasn’t been much better. In those five losses, he’s accounted from 17 assists and 19 turnovers.

I’ll admit, I’m being a bit selective with those stats, but it’s only to drive home a point: Triche and Carter-Williams have not played well over the past month, and it’s why Syracuse is struggling.

I wrote on Saturday that it was not yet time to be concerned about the Orange, and I still think that it is too early to panic. Four of their five losses have come on the road to teams that will likely be in the NCAA tournament. The fifth loss came at home to a team that has an outside shot at earning a No. 1 seed and has been the hottest team in the country over the last seven weeks. It’s not like Syracuse lost to DePaul and South Florida.

But these are still losses, and while good teams win games at home, national title contenders beat good teams on the road.

This is no longer slump. This is a trend, one that’s not necessarily unique. Triche collapsed down the stretch of last season as well.

Syracuse has three games to right the ship before March. Can they make it happen?

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: No. 6 Duke, No. 12 Virginia win comfortably

Marshall Plumlee, Matt Jones, Amile Jefferson
Associated Press
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This will be updated throughout the night. 


UNLV 72, No. 13 Indiana 69: The Runnin’ Rebels held off the Hoosiers in Maui, winning the fifth place game at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational and going 2-1 in the event. Patrick McCaw led the way for UNLV with 20 points, six assists and five steals, and Ben Carter’s block of a Nick Zeisloft three-pointer in the final seconds preserved the victory. Zeisloft scored 17 points and James Blackmon Jr. 13 for the Hoosiers, who went 1-2 in Maui and looked nothing like the Big Ten contender many expected them to be.

No. 14 Gonzaga 80, Washington 64: The Bulldog front court once again led the way, with Kyle Wiltjer scoring 24 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in a 16-point victory. Domas Sabonis added 17 points and nine rebounds, and Przemek Karnowski accounted for 12 points and six rebounds.


Chris Boucher, Oregon: Boucher set a school record for blocks in a game with nine while also scoring 17 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the Ducks’ win over Arkansas State.

Christen Cunningham, Samford: Cunningham shot 8-for-10 from three, scoring 26 points in the Bulldogs’ 75-58 win over Idaho.

Darien Nelson-Henry, Penn: In a game that included the nation’s leading scorer in La Salle’s Jordan Price, Nelson-Henry scored 31 points and grabbed 14 boards in the Quakers’ 80-64 win over the Explorers.


Anthony Lindauer, High Point: Lindauer went scoreless in the Panthers’ 49-46 loss at Georgia, missing all ten of his field goal attempts.

Amar Stukes, La Salle: Stukes shot 1-for-12 from the field in the Explorers’ Big Five loss to Penn, scoring two points.


  • No. 6 Duke pulled away from preseason Ivy League favorite Yale in the second half winning by 19 in Durham. Matt Jones led four Blue Devils in double figures with 17 points.
  • No. 12 Virginia also pulled away in the second half of its game, outscoring Lehigh 45-28 over the final 20 minutes in their 80-54 win in Charlottesville. Malcolm Brogdon led the way with a game-high 23 points.
  • No. 21 Oregon moved to 5-0 with a 91-68 win over Arkansas State. Chris Boucher (17 points, nine rebounds, nine blocks) nearly tallied a triple-double, and Dwayne Benjamin scored 25 off the bench for the Ducks.
  • No. 25 Texas A&M beat Texas 84-73 at the Battle 4 Atlantis, winning the first meeting between the two programs since the Aggies moved from the Big 12 to the SEC. Danuel House scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds and Anthony Collins added 15, five and six assists. They’ll play Gonzaga in Thursday’s semifinals.


  • Michael Gbinije scored 26 points, Trevor Cooney added 19 and freshman Tyler Lydon racked up 18, eight rebounds and six blocks at Syracuse took care of Charlotte, 83-70, at the Battle 4 Atlantis.
  • Florida rebounded from its loss to Purdue on Sunday with an 86-62 win over Vermont. Dorian Finney-Smith accounted for 20 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals.
  • Wake Forest beat UCLA 80-77 to earn a third-place finish at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. Devin Thomas led the Demon Deacons with 21 points and nine rebounds, with Tony Parker pacing the Bruins with 18 points and 15 rebounds.

VIDEO: Shane Richards’ shot lifts shorthanded Manhattan

Shane Richards
Associated Press
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Thanks to injuries and the departure of Jermaine Lawrence, the beginning of the season has been difficult for Steve Masiello’s Manhattan Jaspers. Entering Wednesday’s game against George Mason, which was coming off of a surprising run to the Charleston Classic title game, with just six available players the Jaspers looked to pick up their first win of the season.

And Manhattan was successful, with a Shane Richards three-point play with 1.1 seconds remaining being the difference in their 69-67 win at Draddy Gymnasium. Below is video of the game-winning play, courtesy of Manhattan Athletics.

Richards (13 points) was one of three Jaspers to reach double figures, with Rich Williams leading the way with 26 points and nine rebounds and Thomas Capuano adding 14 points. What also helped the Jaspers was the fact that they forced 25 George Mason, converting those opportunities into 24 points.

Not sure if Manhattan and George Mason are due to play again next season, but the last two meetings have produced dramatic outcomes. The Patriots won last year’s game in Fairfax on a Jalen Jenkins’ 75-footer as time expired.

Video credit: Manhattan Athletics