It was Senior Night for Arinze Onuaku and Andy Rautins and the two didn't disappoint. They were the two leading scorers for the Orange as they took down St. John's 85-66. The win made Syracuse the outright champs of the Big East; a feat they haven't accomplished since 1991.
Syracuse was a bit flat in the early going and St. John's hit 3 of 6 three-pointers early to stay in the game. But this game was never that close and Syracuse trailed for just 20 seconds in the very early going. In the first half, Syracuse mainly pounded it in the paint or kicked it out for a Rautins' three-pointer. Rautins hit 3 of 4 three-pointers and had 11 points in the first half.
I know I shouldn't bash Andy on Senior Night but I have to bring this one thing up. In the second half Rautins slung a left-handed pass that was intercepted by St. John's and the announcer, Bob Wenzel, mentioned how he had done that a few times in the game and how unusual it was. Has Wenzel watched any game film? That's his signature! He almost does that as many times as he hits three-pointers. Rautins averages 2.6 turnovers per game and while I haven't done the research I bet 2.5 per game are on left-handed sling passes where he tries to thread it through three defenders. What I don't understand is why Boeheim doesn't punish him for his ill-advised decisions. Boeheim is known for instantly pulling players after a bone-headed play but it doesn't happen with Andy. After the game Boeheim heaped huge praise on Andy and said he should be considered for Big East Player of the Year. He's extremely important and his threes are usually momentum changers, but let's not get carried away. Scottie Reynolds is hands down the Big East Player of the Year.
Now to the other senior, Arinze Onuaku. Onuaku had his best game of the season. He knocked down 10 of 13 shots for a season-high 21 points and also had 8 rebounds. He also had the misquote of the night when after the game he said, "I think from Day One, we was underdogs and we hit the door running." I think it's hit the ground running. But who knows, with that frame maybe he actually did hit the door running. That door didn't stand a chance.
The Orange were able to get easy buckets off turnovers. They had 8 steals and 8 blocks and had an edge in fastbreak points about 22-0.
This win speaks volumes of this team. How often in year's past would a game like this end up in a major letdown. Syracuse didn't fall into that trap and played like they have all season.
Onuaku was pulled with under three minutes remaining and received a huge applause and a minute later it was Rautins' turn. But neither of those received the biggest cheer of the night. With 44 seconds remaining, former walk-on (received a scholarship this season) Brandon Reese knocked down a three-pointer and was fouled and the place erupted.GAME NOTES
-Wes Johnson is still feeling the effects of that swollen thumb. Boeheim talked about how he's nowhere near 100 percent but hoped he would be by next Thursday when they begin the Big East Tournament.
-Rick Jackson only played 15 minutes and was on the bench the entire second half. Boeheim said, "He had something wrong with his mouth today. Not sure what it was." Looks like Jackson's in the doghouse.