Carmelo Anthony’s 10 best performances in a Syracuse basketball uniform

Carmelo Anthony’s 10 best performances in a Syracuse basketball uniform

Syracuse, N.Y. ― In his one year at Syracuse University, Carmelo Anthony delivered dozens of memorable performances in addition to the only NCAA championship in the history of the Orange men’s basketball program.

He came to Syracuse from Baltimore by way of Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., in the summer of 2002. Syracuse was coming off a season that ended in a trip to the NIT, but Anthony, along with his classmate Gerry McNamara, brought much anticipation and excitement.

Anthony announced his presence in a big way, hammering home a dunk for his first basket in a Syracuse uniform in the nationally-televised season-opener against Memphis at Madison Square Garden.

The 6-foot-8 forward with the baby face and distinctive braids won over the Syracuse faithful with his dazzling play as well as his effervescent smile. He would average 22.2 points and 10.0 rebounds that season; both were and still are records for a Syracuse freshman.

Anthony announced his official retirement from basketball on Monday with a video posted to his social media accounts.

Whittling down to a Top 10 of Anthony’s best performances at Syracuse would seem like an easy task, considering he played in just 35 games during his one year in college. But consider that he reached double-digits in every game. Every single game.

He scored more than 20 points in 26 games that season. He posted double-figure rebounds in 22 games. He had 22 double-doubles. He led or shared for the lead in assists in eight games.

So here is the list that is guaranteed to leave off some performances that would be a high-water mark in the careers of most players. A list that would impossible to get wrong, but will not include games in which he had 29 points (at Connecticut), 26 points (vs. Notre Dame) and 24 points and 10 rebounds (vs. West Virginia).

Carmelo Anthony holds the championship trophy after winning the national championship in the Louisiana Superdome on April 7, 2003.

10. Memphis at Madison Square Garden

On Nov. 14, 2002, Anthony made his college debut on basketball’s grandest stage; at Madison Square Garden, in front of a national TV audience as Syracuse faced Memphis in the season-opener for both teams.

Anthony started the game with a dunk and proceeded to score 21 of Syracuse’s 34 first-half points. He would finish with 27 points, which at the time was a record for the most points for a Syracuse freshman in his collegiate debut. Anthony also hauled in 11 rebounds, while playing the game’s entire 40 minutes.

Although Syracuse lost the game, 70-63, it was an incredible display.

9. Georgia Tech

Following the loss to Memphis in the opener, Syracuse posted five straight wins over a handful of mid-major opponents. But on Dec. 21, 2002, the Syracuse players anxiously waited for the chance to prove their worth against Georgia Tech in a game on ESPN.

For Anthony, it was a chance to match up with another ballyhooed freshman in Georgia Tech’s Chris Bosh.

Syracuse throttled Georgia Tech, 92-65, as Anthony out-played Bosh. Anthony scored 24 points, including four 3-pointers, and grabbed 11 rebounds to just 12 and 7 for Bosh.

8. Oklahoma at the Pepsi Center in Albany

So how good was Anthony really in the 2002-03 season? How about a 20-point, 10-rebound game in the NCAA’s Elite 8 coming in at No. 8 on this list?

Syracuse’s defense ruled the day in a 63-47 win over Oklahoma in the East Region finals. Anthony’s 20 points led the Orangemen. Hakim Warrick was the only other SU player in double-figures with 13 points. Anthony’s 10 rebounds marked his 20th double-double of the season.

Anthony was named the MVP of the East Regional.

7. at West Virginia

Syracuse’s Carmelo Anthony fights for an offensive position against West Virginia on Feb. 8, 2003.

On Feb. 8, 2003, Syracuse traveled to Morgantown, W.V., to play the Mountaineers in their notoriously hostile WVU Coliseum.

Syracuse fell behind by 15 points early in the game, but Anthony brought his team back to within one; 47-46, at halftime. The SU freshman scored 16 points in the first half.

Syracuse opened the second half with eight straight points, Anthony scored 13 after halftime to finish with a then season-high of 29 points to go along with his 12 rebounds and the Orangemen came away with a 94-80 victory.

6. Connecticut at Madison Square Garden

Connecticut beat Syracuse in both of the teams’ meetings in the 2002-03 season, but not even the Huskies; whose lineup included Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordan and Taliek Brown, could figure out a way to stop Anthony.

After putting up 29 points and 11 rebounds in a regular season loss at Connecticut, Anthony had another incredible game in the teams’ second meeting of the year on March 14 in the Big East Tournament semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

Anthony scored 29 points and corraled a career-high 15 boards in an 80-67 loss to UConn. Hakim Warrick’s 14 points made him the only other SU player in double-figures. Syracuse led 39-36 at the half, but the Huskies took charge of the game in the second half. Anthony still scored 18 points in that second half.

5. Rutgers

March 9, 2003 was Senior Day as Syracuse fans bid farewell to the team’s seniors, including captain Kueth Duany. But most of the 33,071 fans on hand also knew it figured to be Anthony’s final game at the Carrier Dome in a Syracuse uniform.

Anthony went out in style, scoring 30 points and garnering 14 rebounds in an 83-74 win over Rutgers.

Anthony made 10 out of 23 shots from the field, was a perfect 10-for-10 at the free throw line and also handed out six assists. In doing so, Anthony set the Big East Conference freshman records for scoring average (21.4) and double-doubles (10) in league games.

4. at Georgetown

In early February, Anthony had what for him was a modest game. In an 88-80 win over Georgetown at the Carrier Dome, the freshman notched 22 points and seven rebounds.

In the rematch one month later at the MCI Center in Washington D.C., Anthony put on a monster performance.

Anthony posted career-highs of 30 points and 15 rebounds as Syracuse rallied for a 93-84 overtime win over the Hoyas.

3. at Michigan State

On Feb. 23, 2003, Syracuse ventured to Michigan State for a rare late-season non-conference game. The Spartans welcomed Syracuse with their 80th consecutive sellout crowd at the Breslin Center.

Before the game, Anthony found some motivation, but lost his sneakers. Michigan State’s Alan Anderson was quoted in the school’s student newspaper as saying that Antony was “just like any other freshman.’’

Syracuse walk-on Andrew Kouwe showed Anthony the article. Syracuse assistant Troy Weaver recalled that Anthony was “seething’’ as he left the team’s pre-game meeting. Anthony was so fired that he left his game sneakers at the team hotel.

Anthony’s footwear didn’t matter. He scored 25 points, including a 4-for-4 performance from 3-point range, to lead Syracuse to a 76-75 win. He also had seven rebounds and four assists.

It was just the fifth loss for Michigan State during its 80-game sellout streak.

2. Kansas at Louisiana Superdome

In the Final Four at the Superdome in New Orleans; the site where Syracuse had suffered the program’s most bitter defeat ever with a loss to Indiana in the 1987 NCAA championship game, Anthony brought home the trophy.

In his final game in a Syracuse uniform, playing with a back that was seizing up due to an injury sustained in the Oklahoma game and reaggravated two nights early in the NCAA semifinals against Texas, Anthony responded with a gutty effort in the national championship game.

After seeing him dismantle Texas, Kansas devoted most of its defensive attention toward Anthony. The freshman countered with an all-around performance.

Gerry McNamara poured in six 3-pointers in the first half. Role players Billy Edelin and Kueth Duany scored 12 and 11 points, respectively.

Anthony did everything else, coming up just three assists shy of a triple-double. He recorded 20 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high seven assists.

Syracuse held on for an 81-78 win to claim the national championship trophy as Anthony was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player.

1. Texas at Louisiana Superdome

Syracuse forward Carmelo Anthony battles for the ball during a Final Four game against Texas on April 5, 2003, at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.

Before getting to the title game, Syracuse had to face a talented Texas team, which was led by national player of the year T.J. Ford.

Anthony felt slighted that Ford had received the national honors over him. He took it out on the Longhorns.

Anthony scored 33 points; his highest total at Syracuse, on 12-of-19 field goal shooting. He also went 6-for-7 at the foul line. He also dominated the boards, raking in 14 rebounds; double that of any other Syracuse player and five more that Texas’ top rebounder.

The 33 points were the most scored by a freshman in a Final Four game. It also marked the most points for a Syracuse freshman in a single game.

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