NEW YORK — During the final seconds of St. John’s 104-58 blowout of Fordham on Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, a handful of Johnnies fans let loose a chant.
“We want ‘Cuse.”
Coming off their most complete and impressive victory of the season, the Johnnies (6-2) will host No. 4 Syracuse Dec. 15 at the Garden. The two former Big East foes will meet in a non-conference tilt in which there will surely be a lot of orange-clad fans visiting the renovated Garden.
“It’s always fun to play Syracuse,” Johnnies sophomore forward JaKarr Sampson said after going for 12 points and 4 rebounds. “It’s a packed house. It’s a lot of Syracuse fans in here even though it’s our homecourt. But It’s always fun to play Syracuse. It’s my first time playing Syracuse in the Garden, so it will be fun to see how that goes.
“We just gotta step it up…and work on attacking that crazy zone they got.”
The game will mark a return home of sorts for former St. Benedict’s Prep point guard Tyler Ennis, who is averaging 12.4 points and 5.1 assists for the unbeaten Orange.
Whether the Johnnies are ready for the challenge remains to be seen, but this effort against Fordham was their best of the season.
Orlando Sanchez, a 6-foot-9 senior in his first year of eligibility, had a career night with 19 points and 8 rebounds and four other players reached double-figures on a night when St. John’s shot 66 percent from the field and made 17 straight shots at one stretch.
“If they continue to shoot the basketball like this, I see great things,” Fordham coach Tom Pecora said.
Said Johnnies coach Steve Lavin: “Syracuse is a game that has a lot of hype and interest because of the rivalry.
“But for our team it’s about going back to practice having a good week so we can give us a chance to be competitive against a team close to being the best in the country.”
Photo: Daily News
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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.