College Hoops Player of the Day for DAY, Month, 2010
Just in case anybody was thinking Syracuse could suffer a late-season letdown, Andy Rautins and Rick Jackson sent a loud reminder the the Orangemen can score from anywhere on the floor.
After trailing at the break to Providence, 52-47, Syracuse put on a show of offensive firepower and defensive skills, outscoring the Friars, 52-33, en route to a 99-85 victory, their 26th, against just 2 losses. Jackson was a powerhouse inside, hitting on 13 of 17 shots for a career-high 28 points to go with his 9 rebounds (6 offensive). Rautins, who has emerged as the team leader this season, matched Jackson in the points column, going 10-for-16 from the field, including 8 of 12 3-point attempts. He fell just one point short of his own career high.
While those two were playing Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside, their teammates were slamming the door on the overmatched Friars, who had hit 10 of 19 three-pointers in the first half. In the second half, they went just 4-for-14 from beyond the arc, with Syracuse defenders challenging almost every shot.
The 99 points scored by Syracuse was the best offensive output they've had against any Big East opponent this season by far. Their previous high was 85, also scored against Providence.
In first place at 13-2 in the conference with just three games left on the regular season schedule, the Orange earned a double bye in the upcoming Big East tournament as they are certain to be one of the top four teams. Syracuse is one game up on Villanova, whom they host on Saturday. A win there would virtually assure that the Orangemen are corwned Big East champs.
Notable: Keep an eye on the Florida Gators. With their 75-62 win over Tennessee Tuesday night, they're in a good spot in the SEC East, at 9-4 (20-8 overall). With three games left on their schedule, the Gators are hoping to win two of them. They play at Georgia on Saturday, then host Vanderbilt on March 2 before finishing up on the road, at Kentucky, March 7.