February 24th, 2010 by
For awhile there in the first half, I had flashbacks to TJ Sorrentine. Providence went 10-19 from three during the first half Tuesday night, many of those attempts coming from crazy distances or with Syracuse hands right in the shooters’ faces. While you knew that such a tear couldn’t last forever, this was not your typical basketball game. Providence is a team that scores in bunches, due more to a high number of possessions than shooting accuracy and offensive efficiency.
Fortunately, Syracuse’s defense to start the second half was spectacular and kept the Friars from keeping the game competitive. SU built a 16-point advantage thanks to a 26-5 over the first 9:30 of the second half and never looked back, thanks largely to spectacular performances by Andy Rautins and Rick Jackson
Andy was terrific – with the point guards being mostly absent yet again, he picked up their slack, dropping a season-high 28 points on the Friars, going 8-12 from long range (6-6 in the second half) and popping his dunking cherry about midway through the second half. When the Orange trailed in the first half, he gave them some momentum going into the locker room by canning a trey. In a fast-paced game with tons of possessions, Rautins turned the ball over just twice while playing all 40 minutes.
Down in the paint, Rick Jackson came to play, equaling Rautins’ scoring output for a career high himself. While obliging to match the pace the Friars set, the guards found Jackson often, and he had very little trouble converting 13 of his 17 attempts. The Friars weren’t nearly as quick getting back on D as they were running their gimmick offense, and when they did, they were grossly overmatched by Jackson and Arinze Onuaku, who chipped in a workmanlike 12 and 7.
Now, Syracuse fans can breathe a sigh of relief, bask in a second-round Big East Tournament bye and commence focused anticipation on the Villanova game that will likely determine the conference champion, dictate whether or not the public healthcare option will prevail and end conflict in the Middle East once and for all.