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Matt Norlander

Syracuse avoids epic collapse against rival Georgetown

The Dagger

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It wouldn't have been a season-changing loss, but it would've stung a hell of a lot more than dropping a game at home against Louisville.

Plus, panic would've set in amongst the fans. Fortunately, we're spared the Syracuse pessimism on a Friday.

Syracuse had a 23-point lead and turned the contest in D.C. into a snoozer. Heck, I've got no shame in admitting that I turned the channel over to the Olympics for a few minutes before hopping back to see Georgetown had diced the Orange lead to eight.

It was almost karmic retribution.

After all, you may recall how Georgetown leaped out to a 14-0 lead at the Carrier Dome, only to implode and lose by 17.

But it was another season sweep for the Orange over their rivals. A 75-71 SU win thanks, in some respect, to Kris Joseph, who is the sixth man of the greatest value in the Big East this season; maybe even in the nation. Joseph has taken the role with the right about of humbleness and aggressiveness that teams need. He's second in points and rebounds. Some want him in the starting lineup consistently. I say no; don't tamper at this point in the season.

Andy Rautins' season-best 26 points was the primary reason why the Orange had the insurance they needed in the second half. I heard that kid has a father, too. (Those who pay attention to Syracuse games on ESPN know what I'm talking about.) SU only made three field goals in the final 12 minutes but flew home with a W in its pocket.

But back to Georgetown. Why couldn't it fully close the gap?

First of all, because the Hoyas aren't built to come back from 15-point deficits, let alone 23-point ones. It's not in their scheme. Last night was certainly an aberration, I promise you. Nine times out of 10, if G'town is losing by a Michael Jordan in the second half, that gap isn't getting any closer than 10.

But there's something to be said for home court pride against your rival. Greg Monroe continued to show why he'll be , at a minimum, reliable at the next level. There was emotion, hustle and, most importantly, production from the Hoya Alpha Dog. Monroe had 11 points and seven rebounds in the second half, including grabbing one off a missed free of his. The kid has grown up and it's been a pleasure to watch.

Now, the foul shooting. That's issue No. 2. Syracuse shot them well; Georgetown did — until the final four minutes. The Orange were 27 for 30 and Georgetown 16-24 overall. But I do want to point out that while the Hoyas missed a bunch of freebies down the stretch, they were getting offensive boards after the second missed one and putting back points. So those cancel each other out.

The third reason: You know what, I don't have one. The Orange had Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku foul out, yet the Hoyas couldn't throw the knockout punch. The final result speaks more to Syracuse than Georgetown.

So Syracuse hangs on to its mythical 1-seed for now and Georgetown (8-6) slips further down the Big East ladder.

Hoyas have to learn to get Monroe, Chris Wright and Austin Freeman into a three-man type of monster so they can threaten to make the Final Four. Syracuse just needs Wes Johnson to continue to get healthy and the path to Indianapolis will have fewer and fewer bumps.

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