Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was answering a lot of questions about his team after its latest win. One of his most interesting responses, however, was about the St. John's team his Orange had just beaten 95-70.
Boeheim, who tied Dean Smith for third place on the coaches' all-time victory list with win No. 879, could only shake his head when he spoke of the Red Storm, who have five freshmen and a junior college transfer in their seven-man rotation.
"I don't know how you can do what they've done with five freshmen," Boeheim said. "It's extraordinary to have played the way they have, the win at Cincinnati, the comeback at Duke and they beat West Virginia, which I think is a very good team."
Fab Melo scored a career-high 14 points in his return after a three-game absence and Syracuse (23-1, 10-1 Big East) rallied behind the return of the 7-footer, taking a 41-27 halftime lead and blowing it open by starting the second half on a 16-3 run in front of a sellout crowd of 19,979 at Madison Square Garden, most of whom were wearing orange.
Rookie guard D'Angelo Harrison had 23 points for the Red Storm (10-13, 4-7), who fell to 0-9 this season against ranked teams. They had four wins last season over top-10 teams. Freshman forward Moe Harkless added 15 points and rookie floor general Phil Greene had 14.
"We fight. We don't worry about the score when we're down," Harrison said of the Red Storm's effort in a second half when they got no closer than 20 points. "We play basketball and we play hard."