It was another solid game for the No. 4-ranked Syracuse Orange, who used a 16-0 run at the start of the second half to beat the AP poll's No. 25-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats Saturday, 67-52, at the Carrier Dome on Saturday.
Now, depending on what the AP and USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll voters decided to do with No. 1 Duke Blue Devils, who lost Wednesday to the Florida St. Seminoles; the Orange (16-0, 5-0) and Pittsburgh Panthers (16-1, 4-0) could be No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, for ESPN's Big Monday contest at the Peterson Events Center — Pitt hosts the Seton Hall Pirates on Saturday night (7 p.m.).
That’s exciting news for the Big East Conference, which currently has eight teams in the Top 25. Unfortunately, SU soundly beat the Bearcats, who will probably fall out of the rankings by Monday.
It was great to see freshman center Fab Melo get quality minutes and finally contribute to a solid victory. It was an ugly first half for Melo, who notched three personal fouls about six seconds into the game — a bit of a exaggeration but, let's be honest, it felt like six seconds. Anyway, the second half was a different story has he added six points and four blocks for a solid second-half effort.
"It feels very good, I’ve been struggling lately," said Melo after the game. "But today I felt confident. I was playing defense and making plays. I felt really confident today."
"The thing I do the best is block shots. They tried to dunk on me, like a lot of people do. But when people try to dunk on me I say ‘No.’ I had a lot of fun in there blocking shots."
Sophomore guard and teammate Brandon Triche spoke highly of Melo's performance.
"I love to see him play well," said Triche. "Once he started playing well, it even made me smile. It’s a thing we all thought that he would be doing every game. This is just a sample of what he can do. He had four blocks. Coming into the year, I really expected him to average that every game. He can play."
Your head had to hurt after junior forward Kris Joseph banged his head against the Jim Boeheim Court with 6:27 to go in the first half. Joseph never returned but it didn’t matter as Triche took over, again, to start the second half and help guide SU to victory. Triche has been just an second-half assassin in the past three games.
Sophomore forward James Southerland is just sneaky good. Southerland doesn’t do anything with a lot of flair — actually, he looks very awkward at times — but he hit two big 3-pointer during the 16-0 run and snagged eight rebounds.
Senior point guard Scoop Jardine was good. He knocked down a bunch of clutch 3-pointers and never tried to too much. Jardine gets in trouble when he tries to take over a game by himself. SU didn’t have that problem on Saturday.
Senior forward Rick "Double-Double" Jackson netted 15 points and snagged 11 rebounds. He’s by far SU’s best and most consistent player right now.