Though it had shaky moments - and a scary one - the Syracuse men's basketball team cruised to a 67-52 victory Saturday afternoon over the no. 25 Cincinnati Bearcats in the Carrier Dome.
The Orange remained, at the time, one of four unbeaten teams in the country (Ohio State, Kansas and San Diego State were the others) as it improved to 18-0, 5-0 in the Big East. It's the second-best start in school history. The Orange's 1999-2000 team won its first 19 games.
This time around, the keys to victory were balanced scoring combined with two strong scoring runs that occurred in each half. In the second half, SU went on a 16-0 run and only looked back to see another successful outcome in front of 24,338 delighted patrons.
SU's defense played a large role in shutting down Cincinnati's opportunity to navigate into the paint, forcing The Bearcats to hit eight first half 3-pointers that allowed them to stay within striking distance.
However, with Rick Jackson, Fab Melo, and Baye Moussa Keita guarding the paint, the Bearcats had to keep relying on perimeter shooting. And in the last 20 minutes the Bearcats cooled off from 3-point range, going two-for-nine.
On the other hand, SU shot well from the floor throughout the game, going 27-for-48, or 56.2 percent. The Orange dominated the interior, outscoring the Bearcats 30-10.
Yet it all came with a big price. With 6:45 left in the first half, Kris Joseph drove into the lane and collided with Yancy Gates. Joseph fell backwards and hit the back of his head on the ground.
Joseph lay motionless for a few minutes as he was tended to by the athletic medical staff of Dr. Irving Rafael and Brad Pike. But he did walk off the court with no problem and headed to the locker room. He would not return to the game because he had a headache. Those headaches lingered, and it would keep him out of Monday night's showdown with Pittsburgh, at least.