Syracuse cruising toward Fab year

February 7, 2012

Syracuse cruising toward Fab year


That's his name. That's his game, especially as it pertains to seven-foot sophomore Fab Melo's mammoth impact on the Syracuse Orange's college basketball season to date.

With Melo on the floor, the 'Cuse is 21-0 with an average victory margin of 19.8 points. With Melo recently sidelined for three games by an academic issue, the Orange went 2-1 with a victory margin of zero.

"I just know it's good to have him back," Syracuse super sub Dion Waiters said Saturday after watching Melo score a career-high 14 points in a 95-70 Orange crushing of host St. John's in his first game back.

"He blocks a lot of shots and takes a lot of charges. We've missed him."

That singular loss at Notre Dame is about all the second-ranked Orange have missed in achieving the nation's top RPI against the country's 11th toughest schedule heading into Wednesday night's Big East showdown against visiting Georgetown.

"I've seen a lot of Syracuse teams, and this may be the best Syracuse zone defense," DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said after coach Jim Boeheim's trademark 2-3 zone took down the Blue Demons on their home court.

"A lot of that has to do with Melo. But their guards also do a good job. It makes you play under duress in a different way."

Here's duress: Thanks in large part to Melo's three blocks a game, the Orange have stuffed more than three times as many shots as their opponents (175-54) and made off with almost twice as many steals (243 to 128).

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