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Orange put the squeeze on Providence

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Eighth-ranked Syracuse showed exactly why they’ve managed to win 38 straight home games on the Carrier Dome floor Wednesday night.

They’re pretty good. And when they’re hitting shots, they’re very hard to beat.

Breaking open a tight game early with a monster run, the Orange swept past Providence 84-59 in Syracuse, NY to improve to 22-4 overall, 10-3 (tied with Marquette for first) in the Big East. The loss ended a four-game Providence winning streak in the league, temporarily suspending any talk about post-season play with four games left in the regular season.

Sitting pretty tied at 12 with just over 10 minutes to play in the first half, the Friars managed to stand toe-to-toe with Goliath early, behind the inside play from Kadeem Batts (13 points) and LaDontae Henton (15 points, 13 rebounds). But once the famed Orange zone defense figured out a way to clamp down, it was lights out for PC.

A devastating 31-4 run over the final 10 minutes of the half put SU up 43-16 at halftime, as their pressure forced the Friars into missed shots. Even when shooters were open, they couldn’t knock them down. And Syracuse knocked theirs down, shot after shot after shot. Led by James Southerland’s 14 first-half points, including two treys from nearby Albany, the Orange squeezed the life out of Providence (14-12, 6-8 Big East) by halftime.

During the four-game winning streak, with Providence’s shooters connecting at a strong clip, defending the other team became an easier task. Missing those same shots that were falling a few games ago, however, turned a tight struggle into a runaway, with little intensity left on the defensive end.

Providence pulled to within 63-45 with 8:45 to play following a 9-1 run, only to watch the Orange pull away for good behind the wizardry of sophomore sensation Michael Carter-Williams, the St. Andrews (Barrington, RI) product. Carter-Williams (15 points, 12 assists) continually led fast break chances for his offense, feeding his teammates for dunks and getting consistent penetration against the Friar defense.

For the game, Syracuse hit 56% of their shots from the floor, the top mark this season against PC. On the other end, the Friars managed but 35% against the Orange defense…certainly not enough to beat a nationally-ranked team on their home floor, no matter how long their winning streak might be.

Simply put, Syracuse is pretty good, no matter where they might play.

Friar Notes

It’s no small coincidence that after a 3-3 stretch where Syracuse played without senior forward James Southerland – who was suspended with eligibility issues – the Orange are 19-1 with his presence in the lineup. Southerland, who hit three bombs from greater than 25 feet against the PC defense, finished 7-of-8 from the floor, scoring 20 points and grabbing six rebounds off of the bench…junior forward C.J. Fair, who might be the most pro-ready player on the Syracuse team, scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his 9th double-double of the season. Fair is one of the top all-around players in the Big East, ranking 17th in scoring, 7th in rebounding and 6th in free-throw shooting (83%)…Carter-Williams collected his 9th double-double effort on the season…Henton’s 15 points and 13 rebounds led the Friars, and was also his 9th double-double (18th career)…after shooting 38% from three-point range in their four straight wins, PC struggled with SU’s length from outside, managing just 3-for-18 (17%)…Bryce Cotton was held to 10 points on 3-10 shooting, 2-9 from the arc…Vincent Council managed 15 points with seven assists, and broke the career record for assists in Big East games with his 3rd of the night on a pass to Henton. He surpassed former SU star Sherman Douglas with the dish…defensively, the numbers were telling. During the win streak, Providence held opponents to 37% shooting and just 18% from three. The Orange connected on 56% of their overall attempts, and hit five-of-10 from deep…With the nation’s top home court winning streak now at 38 straight games, SU is expecting an all-time record crowd of more than 35,000 fans for Saturday’s final Big East match-up at the Carrier Dome with 11th ranked Georgetown. It should be a national on-campus record. 23,717 were watching Wednesday night’s warm up…PC’s last road win over a Top 10 team came against UConn in 2004, winning 66-56…with four games to play in the regular season, the Friars will travel to Piscataway, NJ to next face Rutgers Saturday night at 9 pm (8:45 pre-game on 103.7 FM)…


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