Syracuse-Georgia Tech Preview
Syracuse is undefeated through five games, but it hasn't been easy.
The ninth-ranked Orange expect another tough challenge Saturday night when they face Georgia Tech in the championship game of the Legends Classic in Atlantic City, N.J.
In each of Syracuse's first five games the halftime score has been within three points. In two of those games, the Orange were down at the half, including Friday when they trailed Michigan 31-29 at the break before rallying to win 53-50.
Scoop Jardine bailed out Syracuse with a late 3 and finished with 11 points, while Kris Joseph led all scorers with 22.
Other than facing the Wolverines, Syracuse's schedule hasn't been that difficult. The first four games were against Northern Iowa, Canisius, Detroit and William and Mary, but the Orange have still had their share of problems.
"Everybody talks about schedules,'' said Jim Boeheim, who has already called his team the most overrated one he's ever had in 35 years as a coach. "I'm glad ours isn't any harder or else we'd be 1-4.''
The schedule is about to get much tougher with games against North Carolina State and second-ranked Michigan State coming the first week of December.
The Orange first look to get past the Yellow Jackets (4-1), who defeated UTEP 71-61 in Friday's other semifinal and have won three straight games by an average of 21.0 points.
These schools haven't met since Syracuse's 92-65 home win in 2002. Georgia Tech won the previous two meetings.
Glen Rice Jr. had 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Yellow Jackets on Friday, while Brian Oliver finished with 15 points and 12 boards.
"They played like mature players," Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt told the school's official website. "When those guys play the way they're supposed to play, we got a chance to be a good basketball team."
Syracuse could also be a good team if it could get more players to step up.
Other than Johnson, who has combined for 40 points in the last two games, the rest of the team has been inconsistent.
Jardine had 27 points on 11 of 18 shooting in the win over Detroit, but is averaging 8.8 points on 24.4 percent shooting in the other four.
"The offense is going to be there,'' Joseph said. "Someone is going to step up at some point in the game. We're going to have to put it together.''
The Orange are also hoping to see more production from Fab Melo. Boeheim benched the hyped freshman the entire second half Friday after the 7-footer didn't have a shot, rebound or block in the first 20 minutes.
"We need him to be a good rebounder and defensive player and right now he's not able to do that,'' Boeheim said.