College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, February 18, 2010
The first meeting this season between age-old rivals Georgetown and Syracuse resulted in a less-than epic performance as the Orangemen dusted the Hoyas by an easy 73-56 score at the Carrier Dome. On Thursday night, it appeared that the Orange had Georgetown's number again, despite the game being played on the Hoyas' home floor.
Taking the lead right from the start, Syracuse extended a 44-31 half time gap to eventually lead by as many as 23 points before the Hoyas put together a mid-to-late second half run that cut the lead to 1, at 71-70, with just over a minute remaining. Having lost both of their big men - Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson - to fouls, the Orange responded with a basket by super sub Kris Joseph and a pair of Andy Rautins free throws that sealed up a 75-71 victory, Syracuse's 9th straight road win without a loss and 7th in Big East play.
Rautins, who scored 15 points and had six steals in their first encounter, emerged as the game's high-scorer with a season-high 26 points on 6-for-11 shooting, which included 5 of 9 3-point scores. A 74% free throw shooter, Rautins canned 9 of 11 from the line and hauled in 7 rebounds.
Though Syracuse blew most of their impressive lead, they did not look rattled at any point of the game, especially in the final minute. With legendary Jim Boeheim on the sidelines and floor leader Rautins directing traffic in the 2-3 zone scheme, Syracuse virtually wrapped up a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament with their gritty performance, to say nothing of their shining 25-2 record. They also managed to slip 1/2 game ahead of Villanova in the Big East standings, at 12-2. The 11-2 Wildcats play at Pittsburgh and host South Florida before heading up to play Syracuse next Saturday (Feb. 27), in their only meeting this season, a game that should decide the Big East champion.
Notable: Both #13 Gonzaga and #14 Wisconsin suffered losses to unranked opponents Thursday, the Zags falling Loyola Marymount, 74-66, while the Badgers were thumped by Minnesota, 68-52. Late-season losses have a way of deflating a team's seeding at the Big Dance, especially the kind of drubbing taken by the Badgers. Minnesota is about as bubbly a team as there is in the country, with a 6-7 conference record and 15-10 tally overall. The win was more important for their post-season than the damage it did to Wisconsin's.