georgetown syracuse

Georgetown-Syracuse Big East rivalry closes in fitting fashion

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NEW YORK — Georgetown already beat Syracuse.

In fact, they did it twice. And in devastating fashion.

Georgetown defeated the Orange by 11 in front of a record crowd at the Carrier Dome. They then followed it up by dismantling the Orange by 22 in the regular season final. The Hoyas had sent Syracuse off into the sunset in the best way possible, a season sweep of their bitter rivals in embarrassing fashion.

But that’s not how a rivalry should end, let alone one that laid the foundation for the very conference that is coming to a close this weekend.

Sure Hoya fans would disagree, but the college hoops game deserved better. The Big East deserved better. This rivalry needed to end at Madison Square Garden. This rivalry needed to close with a postseason show down with Championship implications. This final game needed to be decided in overtime, on the final shot of the game.

So when Jabril Trawick’s desperation heave caromed off the iron to give Syracuse a 58-55 overtime victory, Hoya fans languished, Orange fans celebrated and the legacy of the classic Big East shined through one final time.

“This is big time, the Big East Tournament, Georgetown versus Syracuse” said forward James Southerland, who finished with 13 points, including four key 3-pointers. “Everyone was eager to go out there and prove to everybody what we could do.”

Syracuse was not about to let their bitter rivalries embarrass them for a third time, especially not in Madison Square Garden, in an event that the two schools had help put on the map.

“Just us losing last time by 20, that meant a lot for us to even get to play against them again, said Brandon Triche, who scored the final field goal of regulation and the final point of overtime. “Just reading comments from them, talking trash about us, it made it even more important to win a game like this.”

Jim Boeheim agreed that this was a big tournament for his team. Not just because the Orange had been slumping, losers of four of their last five regular season games, but because this was the final trip to Madison Square Garden for postseason play.

“This is a monumental tournament for us to get our confidence back and what we can do and what’s ahead of us. We fully got that back. So that’s why this tournament is so valuable for us this year. We really needed to have this kind of a tournament.”

This is how the Big East was meant to go out.

This is how the Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry was destined to finish.

You can contact Troy Machir on Twitter at @TroyMachir

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.

Tyler Ulis injured as No. 1 Kentucky beats South Florida

Tyler Ulis, Ky Howard
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MIAMI (AP) Jamal Murray had 21 points and No. 1 Kentucky scored the final 15 points of the first half on the way to beating South Florida 84-63 in the HoopHall Miami Invitational on Friday.

Skal Labissiere added 17 points for the Wildcats (6-0), who led by as many as 31. Charles Matthews scored 11 points and Isaiah Briscoe finished with seven assists for Kentucky, now a winner of 37 consecutive regular-season games and 39 in a row against unranked opponents.

Chris Perry scored 14 points for USF (1-5), which has lost 18 consecutive games against teams ranked in the Top 25. Jaleel Cousins added 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, and Jahmal McMurray scored 11 points for the Bulls.

Kentucky played the second half without starting guard Tyler Ulis, who departed with a right elbow injury after getting hurt while fighting for a ball loose on the floor.

Kentucky announced after the game that the injury was a hyperextension of the elbow and that he will be day-to-day.

The Bulls were within 27-21 with 6 minutes left in the first half after McMurray banked in a 3-pointer only a few feet away from where John Calipari was standing, and the look of anguish on the Kentucky coach’s face was clear.

It didn’t last long.

The Wildcats scored on seven of their next nine possessions and the game was over by halftime, Kentucky going into the break with a 42-21 lead.

It was a reunion for plenty of people on both benches. Calipari squared off with his former assistant Orlando Antigua, now in his second year leading USF. Antigua’s staff includes another former Calipari assistant in Rod Strickland, plus former Kentucky basketball staff members Mike Malone and Dominic Lombardi.

So the staffs have plenty of familiarity. On the court, there was plenty of disparity. Kentucky finished with a commanding 23-6 edge in points off turnovers and finished with 16 assists to the Bulls’ six.