Truly, you could smell a letdown coming. Afterall, this was a Syracuse team that had just defeated the teams that had won the last three national championships in their last two games. So even though this Virginia game was billed as a big one towards helping the team get back to the NCAA tournament, it had lost a lot of its luster since the deal was signed.
Couple that with the fact that this Virginia team was coming off a loss to Liberty and the fact that they were picked somewhere near the bottom of the ACC and it was easy to suspect that the Orange might come out a little flat.
But I don't think anyone suspected that the smell was going to be this bad. Because that first half was just about as bad as it could be.
Syracuse was lazy, sloppy and played as if it had no desire to actually be on the floor Friday night. What a major disappointment after the excitement that was created in Kansas City this week.
But as bad as it was in the first half, it was that good in the second half. All of a sudden (and it might not have come until Rick Jackson came off the bench with three big dunks) the Orange was energized. And that energy led to a second half rally. It was the second game in a row that Syracuse trailed by 13 after the break only to rally to victory. This time they didn't overtime to accomplish the feat however.
Jonny Flynn, who was listless and awful in the first half, all of sudden was getting into the lane and providing for his teammates. His passes were leading to Jackson dunks and Andy Rautins' threes. Rautins' jumpers were once again a key to the Orange success.
The other factor that must be noted is that most of this was done with AO on the bench in foul trouble.
So, I guess we have to be thankful for the win. But at the same time it is hard not to be concerned that some of this lame effort (and wasn't it the same way in the Richmond game) is going to cause problems down the road.
I think we've seen that this team can play with some of the best teams in the country. But in my view it isn't one of the dominant teams. Consequently, it needs to be at its best at all times and that means against the lesser competition, so that it can be prepared to lift its level against those dominant teams.
Still, the Orange is 6-0 with 11-0 on the horizon. Wait maybe we should just look to get to 7-0 first.