As the Syracuse men's basketball team had won five games in succession, they were catapulted to a no. 9 national ranking, a far cry from the national ridicule the team suffered in the wake of its exhibition loss to LeMoyne College earlier in the month.
SU's stellar performances included two consecutive blowout victories over California and defending national champion North Carolina at Madison Square Garden. With those wins, the Orange made a strong impression with national media -- but then had to go home and avoid a letdown against a pair of Ivy League goes.
Two days before Thanksgiving, SU defeated Cornell 67-52, wearing down the two-time defending Ivy League champions who are favored to make it three in a row.
Most of the players traveled home for a brief intermission to enjoy the holiday. Upon their return on Friday, they would face the 2-1 Columbia Lions.
In front of an animated 18,145 fans at the Carrier Dome, SU demonstrated that they did not want to be a victim of a trap game.
Iowa State transfer forward Wesley Johnson delivered his career best performance scoring 26 points, adding three assists and three steals.
The Orange's offense was well-balanced and had nearly five players in double figures, allowing Syracuse to roar past Columbia 85-60 and moves to 6-0 on the season. SU's victory marked the 805th for head coach Jim Boeheim, who surpassed Eddie Sutton for seventh place in NCAA Division I men's basketball.
Arinze Onuaku scored 12 points and grabbed five boards. Forward Rick Jackson was close to a double-double, chipping in with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Impressively, Syracuse had 11 players who scored and the bench contributed with 28 points. In a pleasant surprise, Mookie Jones logged in 14 minutes, while profiting from his playing time by adding 12 points and connecting on four 3-point shots.