December 22, 2016
Story by Jon Cerio Photos by Robert Schiff SYRACUSE, N.Y. — In front of 18,363 fans, the Syracuse Orange men put on one of their worst performances in years on their home court, falling to St. John’s, 93-60, Wednesday night. It was the second year in a row that a St. John’s team expected to […]
Story by Jon Cerio
Photos by Robert Schiff
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — In front of 18,363 fans, the Syracuse Orange men put on one of their worst performances in years on their home court, falling to St. John’s, 93-60, Wednesday night. It was the second year in a row that a St. John’s team expected to be easy pickings for Syracuse made the upset look easy.
“This game is all on me,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “I didn’t get them ready to do what we needed to do.”
What the Orange needed to do and did not is defend the perimeter. The Red Storm hit twelve three-pointers against the Syracuse zone. This, after losing to Penn State 92-76 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.
“I can’t really explain it, especially the game we are coming off,” St. John’s head coach Chris Mullin said. “It has been up and down. One thing with our team and sometimes people do not want to hear it… we are young. This is a good experience. It feels better.”
Eye of the Storm
Malik Ellison hit three triples among his 16 points, and teammate Shamorie Ponds added four more threes on his way to 19 points on the night. It was a third St. John’s player, Bashir Ahmed, who led the team with 20 points, six of which came from downtown.
“Bashir [Ahmed] had a great game and everyone else played very well,” Ellison said. “The way we shared the ball, we had 27 assists, that’s just a fun way of playing.”
“Everything is on us,” SU sophomore forward Tyler Lydon said. “He [Boeheim] told us exactly what was going to be happening and we just weren’t able to execute.”
Lydon led the offense for the Orange with 16 points, back from a strained Achilles he suffered on Monday night against Eastern Michigan. He played 38 minutes, more than anyone else for SU. Taurean Thompson and Dajuan Coleman each chipped in 10 points for Syracuse.
The game was competitive in the first half. SU opened on a 7-2 run on a Frank Howard lay-in, a Lydon three and a Thompson dunk.
St. John’s answered with an 8-2 run after that, taking a 10-9 lead on back-to-back threes from Ellison.
SU fought back with a Tyus Battle three and a Taurean Thompson jumper. Syracuse led 14-12 with 12:39 remaining in the half. That was the last time the Orange led in the contest.
‘Red’dy or Not
The Red Storm went on a 14-0 run, including four three-pointers from Ponds and Richard Freudenberg. Syracuse fans were stunned by the Johnnies’ barrage from downtown. It was 26-14 Red Storm with 9:25 left before the half.
For the remainder of the half, Syracuse and St. John’s battled like the old Big East foes that they are. Any time the Orange gained some momentum, the Johnnies would answer with another three-pointer, sucking the life out of the Carrier Dome.
Dropping the Ball
St. John’s led by ten at the half, 39-29. The Red Storm connected on seven threes in the first 20 minutes of play. Syracuse committed ten turnovers in the first half, leading to 18 points for St. John’s.
Paint by Numbers
To start the second half, Syracuse took it inside. The Orange found center Dajuan Coleman for its first six points of the half, cutting the lead to 41-35. The six-point margin was the closest the Orange got the rest of the way.
Ahmed found some easy looks inside, including a dunk with 17:16 remaining to put the Red Storm up by twelve. When Orange guard Andrew White tried answering back with a layup, Ponds hit another dagger from downtown, and the ripple effect could be felt throughout the Dome.
“The only thing that makes us dispirited is the scoreboard, and that is just something we have to correct with our play,” White said.
The Johnnies had an answer at every turn and Syracuse could not solve the quandary that was the perimeter. The Red Storm hit twelve from beyond the arc in the game.
“I had a good feeling we were going to win,” Ponds said. “I give credit to Syracuse and that zone. They are a great program. We found holes and took advantage.”
When Ahmed slammed it home for St. John’s at the 10:34 mark, it was the beginning of the end for the Orange. The Red Storm unleashed a merciless arsenal of dunks and treys on Syracuse, going on a 15-0 run that really stunned the fans in attendance. Some started to hit the exits around the 8:00 mark, and with St. John’s up 74-48.
Lydon and Tyus Battle scored a quick four points to break up another 13-0 run for the Red Storm. Back-to-back Tariq Owens slams, one of which was an insulting alley-oop, were accompanied by a chorus of boos from the crowd.
An uncommon site occurred with 4:49 left on the clock. Syracuse fans were leaving the Carrier Dome in a mass exodus, with their team losing. The score was 85-54, after Ahmed sank a triple for St. John’s.
“From what I’ve seen, based on the start of the season, how we’ve played, it’s totally expected,” Boeheim said. “If we don’t change and play better defense, get better movement, get better guard play, it’s going to continue. This won’t change.”
At the 1:30 mark, Syracuse had something to cheer about as five of their walk-ons came into the game. Ky Feldman obliged the crowd with a corner three.
In the end, the Red Storm rained down on the Orange a tempest of epic proportions, winning by an unheard of margin of 33 points for a Syracuse home game. SU had 19 turnovers, leading to 32 points for St. John’s. Syracuse has lost all three games to former Big East rivals this year (Connecticut and Georgetown).
“Up is the only way we can go from now,” sophomore guard Frank Howard said. “I don’t think you get any worse than this.”
More Red ahead
Syracuse (7-5) takes on the Cornell Big Red after the holiday weekend on the Dec 27. The Red Storm (6-7) is off until it opens Big East play at home in Queens against Butler on Dec. 29.