#1 Syracuse slides past Providence, 87-73
Thursday, January 05, 2012
The hope was, lightning would strike the Dunkin Donuts Center again, just like it did in 2009.
As Friar fans might recall, the night of February 24, 2009, Providence College (in the role of David) managed to rise up and slay then #1-ranked Pittsburgh (that would make them Goliath) at the Dunk. With another chance to make a national splash Wednesday night against another #1 team, PC played well against the Syracuse Orange.
But it was the Orange who thundered past Providence in the end, spoiling the upset bid by winning 87-73.
With perhaps as talented a team as he has had in his 36 Hall-of-Fame years as a head coach, Jim Boeheim's Orange were met by a determined, somewhat stoic effort from the Friars on Dave Gavitt Court. Facing a long and athletic 2-3 Syracuse zone defense, the Friars knew they would have trouble going around - and through - the Orange defense. However, with seven ties and nine lead changes in the first half, both sides battled hard. PC held a five point first half lead when SU managed an 8-0 run to take control at 19-16, with 10:30 to play in the half. Thanks to a Bryce Cotton three, and inside work against the zone from Kadeem Batts, the Friars took the lead back at 22-19 with 8:35 remaining.
Syracuse then flexed its' collective muscle, streaking past the Friars with a 14-6 run to give them a five point lead, then settled in at just a 36-34 halftime margin. Keys offensively for the Orange came from the outside, as Kris Joseph, Brandon Triche and Dion Waiters each hit long distance three point field goals to keep the Friars away.
"It was the best shooting night we've had all year. If it hadn't happened that way, the game could have easily gone the other way," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said afterward. "We've stopped everybody, pretty much, this year. We couldn't stop them. We just outscored them. You know, Brandon just got going and he made some tough shots."
Indeed, he did. Triche then led the nation's top-ranked team (now 16-0) out of the locker room at halftime by connecting on three more huge three-point field goals early in the second half, keying a 15-3 run that turned a tight 40-38 game into a commanding 55-41 lead with 14:46 to play.
The Friars weren't through just yet. With Syracuse holding a 12-point lead, PC narrowed the margin to seven with 9:22 to play, and had the chance to cut it to a five-point game before a couple of misses at the free throw line by Batts. Still, with SU up by 12 and 7:23 left, the Friars made yet another run to pull within 70-64 and 5:42 remaining, as LaDontae Henton (11 points, 13 rebounds), Cotton (13 points) and Gerard Coleman (17 points) all connected. Syracuse's superior shooting night kept the Friars from pulling closer, with the Orange connecting on a phenomenal 73% from the floor in the half.
PC actually shot 50% from the floor themselves in the second half. But Syracuse was just that much better on this night.
"That was a good basketball game. I'm proud of my team," said Friar coach Ed Cooley, as his team drops to 11-5 overall (0-3 Big East) on the season. "I'm not in it to be congratulated on a loss. We want to win. This process takes time. At the end of the day it's about winning the basketball game."
The turning point finally came after the Friars managed to close within six, as Syracuse's Waiters scored on a layup and a huge three-pointer following a charging foul called against Cotton. The charge, and the subsequent basket by Waiters, snuffed out the PC comeback...which means Friar fans will have to wait a little longer for the next lightning strike.
Providence played just six players the entire game, but only Bryce Cotton played the entire 40 minutes...Henton's double-double was his 5th of the season...five players finished with double figure scoring, as Vincent Council (along with Coleman) scored 17, and Batts added a season high 14 points...Syracuse had a very balanced effort with six players reaching double figures, led by Triche with 16 points (4-5 on three's), C.J. Fair with 14 and Kris Joseph with 13...the Orange bench outscored the Friar bench 35-1 for the game, the one point coming from Brice Kofane in the second half...Syracuse shot a season high 61.1% from the floor (also the highest percentage allowed by PC) and a season best 58.8% from the three point arc (10-17). The Friar offense was hardly shabby by comparison, connecting on 49% overall and 46% from outside the arc against the SU zone...Providence won the rebounding battle, 26-25...Syracuse committed just eight turnovers for the game, and managed to score 28 points off of 13 Friar turnovers, which proved to be crucial in the outcome...at halftime, Providence Mayor Angel Tavares unveiled a new street sign for downtown, renaming a city street near the Dunkin Donuts Center (Cathedral Square, Service Road #8) "Dave Gavitt Way," in honor of the former Friar coach, athletic director, Big East founder and commissioner. "I think there would be no Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun, no Syracuse winning a national championship. Dave Gavitt is the only guy that could have put together the Big East," Boeheim said. "He made us all, and he did it in a way that never hurt anybody's feelings ever, and was respected by every side. He's the greatest man I've ever known, and we owe everything to him. Everything." The current run at #1 is in its 4th straight week for Syracuse to be ranked at the top of the national polls, the longest such stretch since six weeks in the top spot back in 1989-90...The Ed Cooley Show returns Thursday night to 103.7 WEEI-FM from Sullivan's Rhode in downtown Providence (55 Union Street) beginning at 7:00 pm...Seton Hall is the next opponent, the second game in a season-long stretch of three straight Big East home games, Saturday night at 6:00 pm...