MBB : Biruta gives Rutgers boost in low post; Triche struggles in 2nd half

first_img Published on February 19, 2012 at 12:00 pm Comments Facebook Twitter Google+center_img PISCATAWAY, N.J. — After Kadeem Jack grabbed his own offensive rebound and muscled it up and in over Fab Melo, Jim Boeheim had seen enough. With a quick flick of his finger, the Syracuse head coach signaled for an unorthodox, yet necessary, substitution.Freshman power forward Rakeem Christmas re-entered the game at the 8:19 mark of the first half, an unusual return for the Orange.‘I think early they were doing a really great job of attacking and keeping (Melo) involved,’ Boeheim said. ‘Later, they weren’t attacking him as much. They were taking different shots, and he was in position to get the ball.’Melo’s inability to be assertive and aggressive in the game’s opening minutes earned him a seat on the bench, as the Rutgers frontcourt picked apart the 2-3 zone early. Scarlet Knights’ center Gilvydas Biruta played splendidly Sunday, scoring a team-high 21 points.Unfortunately for Rutgers (12-15, 4-10 Big East), 14 of those points came in the first half. Syracuse (27-1, 14-1 Big East) buckled down defensively and on the glass in the second half to earn a hard-fought 74-64 win at The RAC.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBiruta surprised the Orange early in the first half by displaying a jump shot the SU players said wasn’t in their scouting report. He opened the scoring for Rutgers with a jumper from the free-throw line. He later swished home a 15-footer from the left baseline.‘He got some jump shots, and we didn’t think he would do that,’ Melo said. ‘That wasn’t in the scouting report. … Sometimes I don’t want to get in foul trouble, so I don’t try to block everything — only if I have an opportunity. And he was pump faking many times, so that’s why it was hard to play against him.’Biruta scored over Melo on a putback after Eli Carter missed a 3-pointer. And Melo bit on a pump fake by Rutgers forward Dane Miller, resulting in an easy drop-down pass to Biruta for a dunk.‘(Biruta) has the skill, he just hasn’t played with poise or composure this year,’ Rutgers head coach Mike Rice said. ‘So it’s nice to have a Gil Biruta sighting, and if he can do it more consistently, I think we’ll win more games.’But the second half marked the end of Biruta’s consistency. Biruta managed only one offensive rebound in the second half, and Syracuse grabbed every board when it mattered most.The Orange yielded just two offensive rebounds in the final five minutes of the game. When Syracuse needed it, the bigs responded.‘(Biruta) did a good job of trying to decode our zone,’ Kris Joseph said. ‘He got a couple fouls early, got the free-throw line and things like that. But we were able to make adjustments, and that’s how we are.’Triche’s offensive struggles continueBrandon Triche was invisible in the second half. Granted, he was only on the court for six of the final 20 minutes, but his performance was forgettable.He missed his only field goal attempt and made 1-of-2 free throws in the second half. He grabbed one rebound and turned the ball over once.‘I think Dion and Scoop have been playing so well,’ SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. ‘But (Triche) was good at Louisville, and he’ll be good again.’Triche’s 16 minutes on the court Sunday were the least the junior guard has played since Jan. 14 versus Providence. He scored five points, his fifth consecutive game in single digits. Triche struggled to get himself open to score points against Rutgers as he tries to fight out of his recent slump.Percentage-wise, Triche, 2-of-4, didn’t shoot poorly Sunday. He just didn’t find himself with any opportunities.With Syracuse ahead 46-41 in the second half, Triche found himself open for a 3 on the right wing. But the shot clanked long off the rim, and Triche committed a foul fighting for his own rebound.Triche hasn’t scored in double digits since Jan. 28, when he led the charge against West Virginia with 18 points.Dion Waiters said he has plenty of confidence that Triche’s offensive game will return to form.‘He’s just got to continue to play and get better,’ Waiters said. ‘Keep working. So at the end of the day, I’m not concerned about Brandon. I know he can come in any given night and go off.’[email protected]@syr.edulast_img

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