The Orange got just what they needed Tuesday night and then some with a major blowout of the Red Storm at Madison Square Garden. This game certainly won’t quiet the critics for a number of reasons – the Johnnies are still a non-factor in the Big East, MSG was largely pro-’Cuse, SU did what they were supposed to and Cincinnati is still right behind the Orange in the race for that last bye in the conference tournament. Still, that doesn’t mean fans shouldn’t be pleased. Even the walk-ons got in the act, and two of them outscored The Big Waffle. Harumph!
The offense was terrific all around with a scorching 65% shooting effort compared to a lousy 40% night by the home team with St. John’s hopeful Lance Stephenson in attendance. Andy Rautins and Paul Harris had modest scoring lines, but found other ways to contribute; Harris led the team in rebounds while Rautins did a very nice job of distributing the ball. In the second half, the game wasn’t even in arm’s reach, unless of course you’re referring to Sean Williams’ arms.
Jonny Flynn had a sparkling performance, and perhaps nobody enjoyed it more than Flynn himself. Time after time, Flynn embarrassed Quincy Roberts, whether it was with a quick stop move, a fadeaway, or crossover. He dazzled the crowd by pulling out every move in the book and the advantage was flat-out silly. He couldn’t be stopped, even after the whistle, as he harmlessly lobbed a shot behind him that went off the backboard and through the net with a couple minutes remaining in the first half. In the post, Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku had a plethora of wide-open shots close to the hoop and connected on them to combine for 29 points.
On defense, the Red Storm were given a ton of open looks. Good thing they couldn’t make any of them. Granted, SU did a fine job when it noticed a few opportunities to trap a player against the sidelines, but generally, the ‘Cuse was perfectly alright sitting in the zone and letting St. John’s clank open shot after open shot. I suppose when you go through a seven-minute scoreless stretch as St. John’s did at the end of the first half and beginning of the second, and when you lead by no fewer than 19 in the second half as the Orange did, lockdown defense is lower on the priority list than, say, having Sean Williams feed Kris Joseph for a dunk or getting Jake Presutti a picture-perfect three point attempt in garbage time.
Finally, big ups are in order for Jim Boeheim, who passed Dean Smith for most 20-win seasons by a D-I coach. Congrats to the mainstay. Next up for the ‘Cuse is another Sunday afternoon in the Dome against Cincy, with the aforementioned eight seed on the line.