Weekend Review: Syracuse Stays Undefeated and Big 12 Battles
In their quest to remain undefeated, the Orange hosted fellow former Big East foe Pittsburgh in a game very reminiscent of their former conference battles. Pittsburgh hung in there by crashing the glass, but a stellar second half by Tyler Ennis helped the Orange to a 59-54 win. Ennis finished with 16 points on 5 of 8 from the floor with 3 assists and just 1 turnover. CJ Fair finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds, Jerami Grant had 12 and 4, while Rakeem Christmas had a strong game in the post, finishing with 10 points and 3 blocks. The frontcourt play was needed more than ever with Trevor Cooney shooting only 2 of 8, all from behind the arc.
The Panthers had their troubles scoring against the Syracuse zone, only shooting 38% overall, and just 36% from three-point range. Lamar Patterson finished with 18 points, including 4 of 9 from behind the arc, while Talib Zanna finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Pittsburgh’s defense was tough throughout, though Ennis was able to find some seams to get to the basket in the 2nd half.
Oklahoma State at Kansas
In one of the most physical games of the season so far, Kansas continued to show their improvement with an 80-78 win over Oklahoma State. Naadir Tharpe has been playing very well after some early-season troubles, growing in his role as a leader. Tharpe finished with 21 points on 7 of 8 shooting, including 3 of 4 from three-point range. He also added 3 steals and 6 assists, but his 6 turnovers helped Oklahoma State make a late run. Freshman Joel Embiid dominated in the paint, finishing with 13 points, 11 rebounds and 8 blocks. Fellow star freshmen Wayne Selden and Andrew Wiggins didn’t fare as well, shooting a combined 3 of 14 from the floor and 12 points.
The Cowboys also had their shooting woes, shooting just 39% from the floor, though 43% from behind the arc. They were able to win the turnover battle easily though, forcing 19 Kansas turnovers to just their 9. Marcus Smart was just 3 of 14 from the floor, but 10 of 10 from the line, and finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists. Phil Forte gave the team a boost with his shooting in the 2nd half, hitting 7 of 10 from three-point range and finishing with 23 points. Markel Brown and Le’Bryan Nash battled foul trouble and physical play around the basket, finishing with a combined 25 points on 10 of 24 from the field. The loss of Victor Robbins to injury was certainly evident with no real size or strength to combat Embiid in the paint.
Oklahoma at Baylor
Lon Krueger has done a terrific job rebuilding the Sooners into a Big 12 contender over the past few seasons, and he just got a big road victory at #12 Baylor on Saturday, 66-64. Sophomore Buddy Hield led the way with 19 points and 8 rebounds, while freshman point guard Jordan Woodard finished with 10 points and 8 assists. One of the Big 12’s biggest surprises this season, senior Cameron Clark, finished with 14 points. The defense held Baylor to just 30% shooting from three-point range.
Baylor’s Kenny Chery continues to play well, scoring 16 points to go with 5 assists. The formidable frontcourt of Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin were held in check by the Sooners’ tough defense, scoring a combined 20 points on 9 of 20 from the floor. Statistically the teams were pretty even, though Baylor only going 10 of 20 from the free throw line could have been the difference in this game.