The final five games of the Big East regular season were unkind to Syracuse. The Orange lost four of five games down the stretch, shooting just over 37 percent from the floor in those defeats. Included in that was a 39-point performance against rival Georgetown, one of the lowest offensive outputs in school history.
But James Southerland and Brandon Triche sparked the Syracuse offense Wednesday and pulled it out of its slump in the Orange’s 75-63 win over Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The win moves No. 19 Syracuse on to face No. 17 Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament on Thursday.
Offensive struggles have been the focus for a Syracuse team that earlier in the season looked poised to be in the running for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Much of that centered around the struggles of Triche, who shot a combined 15-of-52 from the floor in the previous five games after being such an integral part of the Syracuse offense throughout the year.
He broke out of that Wednesday with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting, helped along by Southerland’s 20 points and 16 more from C.J. Fair. Point guard Michael Carter-Williams facilitated the offense, tying a Big East tournament record with 14 assists.
The impact of a productive Syracuse offense goes beyond just scoring points, though. Making shots allows the Orange to set up defensively and fall back into their patented zone defense, which in turn makes it more difficult for the opponent to hit shots. Syracuse weathered Seton Hall’s hot shooting in the first half, but ultimately pulled away in the second.
Pittsburgh’s defense will be much tougher Thursday than Seton Hall’s was Wednesday, but hitting shots will go a long way toward helping the Orange advance to the Big East semifinals.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_
Colorado sophomore forward Tory Miller has been reprimanded by the Pac-12 and he also apologized for biting Air Force’s Hayden Graham earlier this week.
During Colorado’s win over Air Force on Wednesday, Miller was assessed a Flagrant 2 Dead Ball Technical Foul and ejected with 12:25 left in the second half after biting Graham during a loose ball.
In a release from the Pac-12, they announced reprimanding Miller, but he will not be suspended.
“All of our student-athletes must adhere to the Pac-12’s Standards of Conduct and Sportsman-ship,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in the release. “Regardless of Mr. Miller’s frustration and emotion, such behavior is unacceptable and he is being appropriately reprimanded.”
Miller also released his apology in the same release.
“I would like to apologize for my actions during the Air Force game. I would like to apologize to Hayden Graham, Air Force, my teammates and fans. It was a heat of the moment thing. I’m an emotional player, but I let my emotions get the best of me. I will use this as a learning experience and focus on helping my teammates and respecting my opponents for the rest of the season and beyond,” Miller said.
For Miller to not be suspended for this is good news for him and Colorado since he won’t miss any additional action, but did the Pac-12 make the right decision on this?
Michigan State has climbed on the back of star senior wing Denzel Valentine early in the season but they’ll undoubtedly need more help as the season goes on if they want to sustain their current top-5 ranking. One of the keys to the Spartans could be the on-going health of sophomore point guard Lourawls ‘Tum Tum’ Nairn, who is battling a foot injury.
According to a report from Kyle Austin of MLive.com, Nairn has been putting on a protective boot the last few months to help battle plantar fasciitis as the guard has been playing in practices and hasn’t had his minutes reduced in games.
The injury looked like it was hurting Nairn’s early-season play, but he’s been very good in two games at the Wooden Legacy in California this week, so it could be that he’s getting more used to playing through the pain of the injury.
If Nairn is healthy and capable of contributing, he’s a huge boost to Michigan State because he’s one of the fastest players in college basketball and an additional ball handler on the floor. Through six games so far this season, Nairn is averaging 5.3 points and 4.7 assists per game as he’s been one of the team’s best distributors.
Plantar fasciitis can be a tough injury to fight through, so we’ll have to see if this affects Nairn as the season goes along.