College Hoops Player of the Day for Monday, January 23, 2012
Losing isn't always a bad thing. The taste of defeat can inspire players to improve. Just ask the Syracuse Orange, which were ranked number one for six straight weeks in the AP poll and ran off a school record of 20 straight wins to open a season before throwing in a clunker, losing, 67-58, at Notre Dame on Saturday.
Playing for the second straight game without their dynamic center, Fab Melo, the Orange, after a slow start, pulled together and got back on the winning track with a 60-53 win over Cincinnati that was straight out of coach Jim Boeheim's textbook.
The Bearcats sprinted to an early lead, hitting four of their eight 3-pointers before the first media timeout, but by half time, the Orange defense had prevailed, with Syracuse leading 28-25 at the break.
The second half was nip-and-tuck, but Syracuse would not relinquish the lead, as Kris Joseph stepped up with 11 of his game-high 17 points (Cashmere Wright also tallied 17 for the Bearcats).
Joseph couldn't find the range from outside the arc, missing all three of his attempts, but those were his only missed shots, going 8-for-11 from the field and an uncharacteristic 1-for-5 from the foul line. Free throws will be on the Orange to-do list, as they went a combined 5-for-15 from the stripe.
Joseph added eight rebounds and a blocked shot without committing a turnover. The Orange turned the ball over just eight times and stifled the Bearcats with their 2-3 zone.
The win kept Syracuse atop the Big East with a 7-1 record. Georgetown holds second, a game and a half back at 6-2, followed by West Virginia, South Florida and Marquette at 5-2. Cincinnati dropped to 5-3 in the conference and 15-6 overall. 21-1 Syracuse was dropped to third in Monday's latest AP poll, Kentucky regained #1, followed by Missouri at #2.
Coach Jim Boeheim reached another career milestone, passing legendary Adolph Rupp with win 877, fourth all-time among Division 1 coaches.