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Syracuse Basketball: Can Fab Melo Repeat Saturday's Second-Half Performance?

As Syracuse Orange fans prepare to root on their No. 3-ranked squad Monday, there's a lingering question that many SU faithful may not want answered. That question is: "Will freshman center Fab Melo find the physical gumption needed to play against No. 5/4 Pittsburgh Panthers in Monday night's prime-time, Big East Conference match up; or is he going to foul out in the games first six seconds?"

As much as Saturday's six-point, four-block, second-half performance against the Cincinnati Bearcats, who lost 76-59, was great to watch and root for; it may have created a false hope that believes Melo has figured out how to play in the Big East Conference. Not so fast, my optimistic friends.

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2010 - Fab Melo 17 11.0 0.8 1.6 51.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.4 1.1 36.8 0.7 1.1 1.8 0.3 0.6 0.4 0.8 1.8 2.1

Look, I think Melo is going to be a quality Big East center but he isn't right now. Not by a long shot. Melo has a long, long way to go before he can play with inside guys like Pittsburgh's senior Gary McGhee, who has started 52 consecutive games at center and is coming off a solid 13-point, 10-rebound game against the Seton Hall Pirates on Saturday.

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2010 - Gary McGhee 17 20.8 2.8 4.8 57.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.4 2.9 46.0 2.5 4.8 7.3 0.2 0.8 0.3 1.5 1.5 6.9

Now, Syracuse is lucky to have a forward like senior Rick Jackson who plays most of the time at center -- it's usually after Melo commits his third foul about three minutes into the game. Jackson has been amazing this season -- currently, he leads the conference in field goal percentage (.589) and defensive rebounding (8.1) -- but there's going to be a game where No. 00 gets into foul trouble and Melo's going to need to step up.

I have a feeling that tonight, against probably the most physical Big East squad there is, Jackson is going to find himself with a decent amount of fouls. Will Melo be good enough to help out? I guess, SU fans are about to find out.