With concerns all around them, both real and otherwise, the Syracuse men's basketball team went to the road and turned its season around, knocking off no. 7 Connecticut and South Florida on the road.
The Orange were in free fall, having lost four straight contests. It even had to deal with Internet rumors, later debunked, of point-shaving in the lead-up to the game against UConn last Wednesday at the XL Center in Hartford.
But as it has so many times in its long hoops history, the Orange proved that there is no challenge that cannot be met. It weathered the storm in a borderline must-win game and defeated the Huskies 64-58. SU avoided losing a fifth consecutive game for first time in Jim Boeheim's 35-year coaching tenure and improved to 19-4.
It helped the Orange that UConn's Kemba Walker, a candidate for the National Player of the Year, scored a season-low eight points. Though teammate Jeremy Lamb got 24 points, it wasn't enough.
Brandon Triche was SU's most consistent scorer, posting 16 points on seven-for-16 shooting, along with four assists. Rick Jackson contributed with his 15th double-double of the season, getting 13 points and 11 rebounds. He leads the Big East in rebounds at 11.5 per game.
SU, who had fallen to no. 17 in the national rankings, struggled shooting the ball at 31.6 percent, (12-38) but compensated by dominating the rebounds 36-24 and holding the Huskies to a season-low 58 points at it shot 36.2 percent from the field.
Bye Moussa Keita continues to be a pleasant surprise. Against UConn, he had 11 rebounds, plus four points and four steals. His defense was remarkable, altering Connecticut shots and disrupting the penetration of their guards.
The first half was largely a defensive battle. UConn gained a 6-0 lead as SU had another miserable start, missing its first six shots. The Orange were held without a basket for nearly five minutes before Triche scored on a fast break followed by Jackson's hard driving lay-up.