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Tuesday / September 18.
  • Syracuse Visits Georgetown; Cincy Hosts Rutgers

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    PISCATAWAY, N.J. — As good as Syracuse has been this year — and the Orange have been very good in compiling a 16–1 record, 4–0 in the Big East — the bad news for everyone else in the Big East is that they could get much better.

    “That’s the scary thing, I think we can get so much better,” Syracuse point guard Jonny Flynn told me after his team beat Rutgers on Saturday night at the RAC. “We don’t have no ceiling on this team. We cut down on our turnovers, which we really needed to do. I think we can do a lot of things better and that’s the good thing about the team.”

    Tonight the No. 8 Orange travel to No. 13 Georgetown (11–3, 2–2) in a game that will be televised on ESPN2.

    It begins a stretch of four consecutive ranked opponents for the Orange. Nine of Syracuse’s next 10 opponents are in the Top 25.

    “Georgetown is a tremendous team,” Orange coach Jim Boeheim said. “There’s so many teams that are going to be good, not just pretty good, really, really good. You just gotta get ready to play every night and know that it’s going to be a difficult night and a difficult game. And that’s the way it’s going to be.”

    Syracuse looked very impressive against Rutgers. The turning point came when Flynn posterized Mike Rosario with a vicious tomahawk dunk in the second half. He finished with 15 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds and 0 turnovers, and is quickly making a case for himself as a candidate for Big East Player of the Year along with Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody and the Pitt duo of DeJuan Blair and Sam Young.

    “Whatever it was, I was going to make a statement regardless,” Flynn said of the dunk. “As a guy that wants to look to dunk on people whenever you see somebody in the lane, you’re going to try it. You’re going to try to get your team hyped and get your fans up.”

    Another guy who played great for the ‘Cuse was junior forward Paul Harris, who led all scorers with 26 points on 11–of-13 shooting. Arinze Onuaku, a 6–9, 275–pound load in the middle, was too much for Rutgers to handle with 19 points.

    “Paul, if he plays like that he’s a tremendous player,” Boeheim said. “He’s been playing pretty good this year, too, and tonight he really took what was there. He made a couple 15–footers and then they got up on him and he went by them and made plays. I thought he was tremendous.”

    Harris, like Flynn, thinks Syracuse is still on the rise.

    “We still got a lot of learning to do,” Harris said. “I think we’re just improving and improving.”

    RUTGERS VISITS CINCINNATI

    There are four winless teams in the brutal Big East, but only three will remain after tonight.

    Rutgers, losers of its first four Big East games, visits a Cincinnati team that is 0–3 in the conference. Rutgers has dropped five straight overall and the Bearcats have lost four in a row. The game will be shown on SNY at 7:30.

    Both teams desperately need a win here.

    After this game, Rutgers returns to the RAC to host a red-hot Louisville club that has beaten Villanova and Notre Dame in back-to-back tilts.

    After that, Rutgers will play three lower-tier teams when it visits St. John’s (Jan. 24), Seton Hall (Jan. 29) and hosts DePaul (Jan. 31). Seton Hall and DePaul have yet to win a league game.

    Cincinnati also has a stretch of winnable games coming up. Following Rutgers, the Bearcats play at DePaul (Jan. 17), at Providence (Jan. 19) and at St. John’s (Jan. 22).

    The good news for Rutgers is that it is outrebounding opponents by 3.6 boards a game (37.9–34.3) and ranks 11th in the Big East.

    The bad news is that junior center Hamady N’Diaye is suffering from a lower back injury that has cut into his rebounding and blocks totals.

    Rutgers continues to struggle offensively. The Knights are ranked 15th in the conference in scoring offense and last in assists.

    Rutgers senior point guard Anthony Farmer needs 30 points to become the 37th player in program history to reach 1,000 for his career.

    Cincinnati is led by guard Deonta Vaughn (13 ppg in league play), Mike Williams (13) and Yancy Gates (10). Former Paterson Kennedy and St. Benedict’s Prep standout Rashad Bishop is averaging 10.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists in his last three games.

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.