Villanova came out on fire. James Bell hit three threes in the first four minutes and the Wildcats jumped all over a Syracuse team that looked like they hit the snooze button too many times. It was 25-7 with 10 minutes left in the half, and the Orange looked like they were going to get steam-rolled in their own building.
And then it all changed.
Villanova settled for too many quick threes as the Syracuse zone eliminated any kind of penetration, the Orange were able to get out into transition and before you could say ‘Baye Moussa Keita’, the Orange went on a 20-0 run, holding Villanova scoreless over the course of seven minutes. That surge would continue into the second half, as Syracuse would end up winning 78-62. Do the match, and over the course of the last 30 minutes of the game, Syracuse outscored Villanova 71-37.
Trevor Cooney led the way for the Orange with 21 points, but it was the play of Tyler Ennis stabilizing the Syracuse attack that made the difference. He had 20 points, slicing up the Villanova defense during the first half come back and setting the table for his teammates in the second half.
Ennis added two assists and didn’t turn the ball over. On the season, Ennis has just 13 turnovers despite playing more than 32 minutes per game as the primary ball-handler. He’s also a freshman, which makes his performance just that much more impressive. Syracuse is the No. 2 team in the country and looks every bit a national title contender. I think we can all agree that they wouldn’t be in this position without Ennis. Not only does he belong in the same conversation with the likes of Julius Randle, Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker when talking about the nation’s top five freshman, other than Marcus Smart, I’m not sure that there is a point guard in the country that is unquestionably better than Ennis. Aaron Craft? Maybe. Jahii Carson and Shabazz Napier? There’s an argument to be made.
At worst, Ennis is probably a top five point guard nationally. Think about that.
Ennis is a different breed of point guard. He’s not overwhelmingly explosive. He’s not lightening quick or 6-foot-5. He’s not a pure scorer or a pure passer. He’s just a smart player that understands change-of-pace and knows when he needs to score and when he needs the Orange to run offense.
He’s the perfect fit for Syracuse. He’s their most valuable player, the biggest reason the Orange look like the best team in the ACC.
He proved it again on Saturday.
Nahziah Carter is an unsigned 6-foot-6 wing in the Class of 2017.
He’s also Jay-Z’s nephew, and he just so happened to posterize Marvin Bagley III — the clearcut No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2018 — while Hova was in the stands watching him.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.
Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.
The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.
As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.
Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.
SMU pulled in a frontcourt player in Georgetown transfer Akoy Agau, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Agau is immediately eligible for next season as a graduate transfer.
The 6-foot-8 Agau started his career at Louisville before transferring to Georgetown after one season. Spending two seasons with the Hoyas, Agau was limited to 11 minutes in his first season due to injuries. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.
Coming out of high school, Agau was a four-star prospect but he’s never lived up to that billing in-part because of injuries. Now, Agau gets one more chance to make a difference as he’s hoping to help replace some departed pieces like Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye.
South Carolina big man Sedee Keita will transfer from the program, he announced on Friday.
The 6-foot-9 Keita was once regarded as a top-100 national prospect in the Class of 2016, but he never found consistent minutes with the Gamecocks for last season’s Final Four team.
Keita appeared in 29 games and averaged 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 27 percent from the field.
A native of Philadelphia, Keita will have to sit out next season before getting three more seasons of eligibility.
Although Keita failed to make an impact during his only season at South Carolina, he’ll be a coveted transfer thanks to his size and upside.
Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.
Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.
The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.
Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.