Rushed Reactions: #3 Syracuse 77, #14 Western Michigan 53

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 20th, 2014

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Rush the Court will be providing wall-to-wall coverage of each of the NCAA Tournament from each of the 13 sites this year. Follow our NCAA Tourney specific Twitter accounts at @RTCeastregion@RTCMWregion,@RTCsouthregion and @RTCwestregion.

Tyler Ennis and Syracuse looked sharp against Western Michigan on Thursday (AP)

Tyler Ennis and Syracuse looked sharp against Western Michigan on Thursday (AP)

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Syracuse looks sharp. The Orange have struggled mightily in recent weeks, but you wouldn’t have known it from watching them take on Western Michigan. This game was never close. Offensively, Syracuse’s ball movement was crisp, looks opened up under the basket, and the outside shooting was on point. Defensively, they stymied the Broncos for the much of the afternoon, eliminating passing lanes and hustling on every rotation. It was the type of energetic, complete effort that projects well for the Orange going forward.
  2. Trevor Cooney might be key going forward. While Jerami Grant, C.J. Fair and Tyler Ennis were all excellent today, Trevor Cooney – and his 18 points on 4-of-8 three-point shooting – might have been the guy who really broke Western Michigan. Cooney buried several triples during the first half and early in the second half that squashed any small amount of hope the Broncos held on to. His ability to get hot and go on one-man runs might be crucial in elevating Syracuse from mere South Region threat to legitimate National Championship contender in the coming weeks.
  3. Crowd will be a factor on Saturday. Make no mistake about it – as good as the Dayton crowd was today, it did not hold a candle to the Syracuse contingency. And that’s not a knock on Flyers fans, either, because they were excellent. But the close proximity of the Orange faithful was evident from the get-go, and no single roar in the first game matched the ‘Cuse roars in the second. If Archie Miller’s crew plans on advancing to the Sweet Sixteen this weekend, it will have to do so in a hostile environment.

Star of the GameTrevor Cooney (18 points, 4-of-8 3FG). Jerami Grant and his monster jams might have caused the loudest stir among fans here today, but Cooney’s buckets were huge. Again – if he produces like this going forward, Syracuse is scary… like, three weeks ago scary.

Quotable. “When anyone’s making threes in bunches… it gets us going. It makes the defense have to react differently.” C.J. Fair on Trevor Cooney’s performance.

Sights & Sounds. Syracuse fans must still have that old Big East competitiveness in ‘em, because when the Harvard-Cincinnati score popped up on the big screen, there was plenty of excitement for the upset in the First Niagara Center. No love lost for former conference brethren, apparently.

Wildcard. Grant threw down a one-handed, hammer-jam in the second half that probably drew louder cheers upon replay than it did in when it actually happened. Beastly.

What’s Next? Syracuse gets Dayton on Saturday in what’s sure to be a more competitive game. The Flyers have shot nearly 38 percent from behind the arc this season, whereas Western Michigan entered Thursday shooting  just 33 percent. The Broncos hit only four of their 18 attempts – that was not going to get it done against the Orange’s 2-3 zone. Expect better outside shooting, and thus a closer game, this weekend.

Tommy Lemoine (63 Posts)


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