Coach Jim Boeheim has had extremely high expectations for the 7-foot center Fab Melo ever since he donned a Syracuse uniform and was named Preseason Newcomer of the Year last season. Things did not go as expected at all- to say Melo struggled would be an understatement; he averaged under 10 minutes a game, often sitting early with foul troubles and conditioning issues. While some of the fouls continue to pile on, Melo has logged double-digit minutes every single game (22.9 minutes per contest) and as a result, he is able to find his rhythm both offensively and defensively. He still has a long way to go towards being a refined product and potential first-round prospect in the Draft, but Melo's latest contest against Seton Hall shows exactly what Melo is capable of: 6-of-9 shooting from the field with a career-high 12 points, 7 rebounds (fifth time this season with 7+ boards after just one such performance last season) and 10 blocked shots; his scoring and rejections were both career highs and it was his first double-double of his brief career.
This harassing defense by the Syracuse guards on the perimeter and interior presence of Melo is exactly why the Orange remain undefeated after 14 games and top the national polls. Seton Hall shot just 31.7 percent from the field, while Syracuse finished with 17 steals, 15 blocked shots and forced 23 turnovers total. To add on, Herb Pope, the Pirates' senior forward, entered the game fourth in the nation in scoring at 20.3 points per game and top ten in rebounding as well, was dominated by Melo down low- he finished the game with 4 points on 2-of-9 shooting and 6 turnovers.