On most nights a team would be in trouble if its leading scorer failed to tally a point, but that wasn't the case Wednesday for the No. 1-ranked men's basketball program, Syracuse University, which used a 12-point, 10-block, seven-rebound performance from sophomore center Fab Melo to rout visiting Seton Hall University, 75-49, in a Big East Conference game in front of 25,081 fans at the Carrier Dome.
Surprisingly, Syracuse's top scorer, senior forward Kris Joseph, missed all of his six shots from the floor, but the deep Orange squad (14-0) didn't need him, as sophomore guard Dion Waiters came off the bench to pace the Orange with 15 points, while junior guard Brandon Triche added 11 points. Sophomore forward C.J. Fair chipped in with nine points and eight rebounds.
"We got enough guys that if somebody has an off game, we got (other) guys," said Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. "Kris couldn't get into a rhythm tonight. He did have four really good passes and couple really good steals defensively. That's all part of the game."
Senior point guard Jordan Theodore netted 10 of his team-best 14 points in the first half for Seton Hall (11-2), which was held to a dreadful shooting percent of 31.7-percent (19-of-60). The Pirates made just 5-of-27 (18.5-percent) from the floor in the first half, which ended with the Pirates trailing, 34-15.
"Defensively, we stole the game," said Boeheim who watched the Orange force 23 turnovers.
Senior forward Herb Pope, who entered the contest second in the Big East in scoring and rebounds, tallied just four points, collected nine rebounds and finished 2-for-9 from the floor. Meanwhile, sophomore guard Fuquan Edwin made none of his 11 shot attempts.
However, the postgame, water-cooler talk will surround Melo, who set a school record in blocks and tied a collegiate-best in total points.
"Night and day," Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard responded when asked about Melo's performance from last year to this year. "That staff deserves an unbelievable amount of credit. I think, Fab deserves an unbelievable amount of credit. That kid is a pleasure to watch on film."
"They kept coming right at him and he was there," said Boeheim, who continues to credit Melo's off-season conditioning program for his turnaround.
In the first half, SU jumped out to a quick 8-1 lead, as Seton Hall missed its first nine shots from the floor, including four 3-pointers. The Pirates first basket was made by Theodore, who used a put-back to cut Syracuse's margin to 8-3 just six minutes in.
Behind six points from Waiters, Syracuse slowly pushed its lead to 26-14 after Fair nailed a jumper with 4:19 to play. Then, Melo took over swatting away three shots, collecting two rebounds and two points in the final four minutes of the first half, which ended with SU ahead by 19 points.
"Syracuse is the real deal," said Willard. "They are the best team in the country by far and they kicked our a**."
SB Nation New York blogged live from press row at the Carrier Dome Wednesday night, as the Syracuse Orange defeated Big East rival the Seton Hall Pirates Be sure to check back for postgame quotes from both head coaches -- SU's Jim Boeheim and SHU's Kevin Willard. Visit SB Nation's Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician for more on Syracuse and South Orange Juice for everything Seton Hall. Follow us along on Twitter at SBNationNY or JaredSmithCNY.