The first game the No. 4 Syracuse Orange played without center Fab Melo, who is suspended due to unresolved academic issues, they suffered their first loss of the season this past weekend to an underwhelming Notre Dame. The second time around, the last game of Melo's suspension, things went a lot more smoothly for the Orange, as they took care of business, 60-53, against the Cincinnati Bearcats.
The senior leaders came through in a big way for the Orange. Kris Joseph played an insanely efficient game, scoring 17 points on 8-11 shooting with six rebounds, two blocks and no turnovers. Scoop Jardine was huge down the stretch, hitting a dagger three-pointer with just over two minutes to go that essentially put the game away and sent Bearcats head coach Mick Cronin into a stunned silence. He finished with 13 points, six assists and no turnovers.
The Bearcats fell to 5-3 in the Big East and 15-6 overall, but they're still very much a tournament team, and they put up a good fight against the formerly top-ranked team in the nation at home, though that will comfort very few Cincinnati fans. The Bearcats shot just 34.4 percent from the field and were an abysmal 3-9 from the charity stripe. Senior Yancy Gates led the charge with 16 points and 10 rebounds and junior Cashmere Wright put in 17 of his own, but turning the ball over 11 times and making just three free throws will lead to a loss just about every time.