September 17

MBB : Fair’s big bucket halts Indiana State rally, propels SU to run that puts game away

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Published on March 18, 2011 at 12:00 pmcenter_img CLEVELAND — With Indiana State’s defense focused on Rick Jackson, C.J. Fair seized his opportunity. It was the freshman Fair who made ‘the play’, early in the second half, that returned momentum in Syracuse’s favor.Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim drew the play up for Jackson, but when the ISU defense collapsed on the big man, he was able to fling the ball to Fair. Fair drove through the crowded lane and banked in a shot off the glass, increasing SU’s lead to six with 15:41 remaining.‘I think that was kind of the play,’ Boeheim said afterward. ‘We got six, and then we got a steal and got it to eight, to ten. But that, I thought, was a huge, huge play.’The four-point deficit prior to Fair’s bucket would be the closest ISU would get in the second half, as Syracuse rode the momentum to a 77-60 win in its opening game of the NCAA Tournament Friday, advancing the Orange to a third-round matchup Sunday against Marquette. Until then, the Orange had allowed Indiana State to chip away at a 17-point first-half lead.The Orange subsequently went on a 12-2 run over the next five minutes and closed the Sycamores out by outscoring them, 35-22, over the rest of the game.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘We had some turnovers right when we cut it to four that led to some easy fast-break points for them,’ Indiana State head coach Greg Lansing said. ‘I thought when we cut it to 42-38, we turned the ball over a few times and really didn’t give ourselves a chance.’Before that, the Sycamores had gone on a run to head into halftime down by just eight. Indiana State then began the second half on an 8-4 run before Boeheim’s play, drawn at the first media timeout of the second half, shifted momentum the other way.Shots were falling and ISU had confidence and momentum in its favor. Suddenly, the Sycamore’s turned an early blowout — in which SU once led 31-14 — into a game at 42-38.‘I think we thought we could do that the whole game,’ Indiana State point guard Jake Odum said. ‘You gotta go in the game thinking you can win. Even when we were down 17, if we gave up and didn’t think we could win the game, we wouldn’t have cut it down to four.’But it didn’t last long. Fair made his big shot, sparking Syracuse’s next run. A run that lasted the final 15-plus minutes.This time, there was no coming back.‘We’re proud of our effort, but things didn’t go our way after we cut it to four,’ Lansing said.Syracuse clamped down defensively, creating turnovers and forcing errant shots from the outside. Syracuse forward Kris Joseph called it one of the better defensive stretches the Orange has had recently.Indiana State made just one field goal during the five-minute stretch from 15:41 to 10:29, a stretch in which SU went on that 12-2 run to go up by 14. The Orange also forced 14 turnovers in the game.‘I think in the second half our defense got a little bit better when we needed it to,’ Boeheim said. ‘And we got some turnovers and got a couple easy baskets. …We made some good plays coming down the stretch when we needed to.’As a result, Syracuse turned what was a tight game into a 20-point lead with just minutes remaining. The Sycamores were unable to make the necessary plays down the stretch. ISU’s shots stopped going in, which in turn affected its defense and rebounding on the other end.Against a team like Syracuse, those mistakes became more costly than usual.And sitting in his locker in following SU’s win, Fair reflected upon the play Boeheim believes made it all happen. Fair wasn’t just thinking of the one play’s effect on the rest of the game, though.The freshman said his bucket jumpstarted what SU needs to do moving forward.‘That was a real big play,’ Fair said. ‘But the momentum changer was what we did after that with our defense.’[email protected]last_img read more