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Syracuse 2nd half surge pushes past PC

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Considering this may have been Syracuse's final trip to Providence, it's understandable Jim Boeheim is upset.

"It's a sad night tonight," Boeheim said, after his 7th ranked Orange basketball team handed Providence another defeat at the Dunkin Donuts Center, 72-66.  "We've been coming here for 34 years. That's a lot of history," he said. "Every one of these games is a little bit of sadness for me. I know where all the good restaurants are now, and now I've got to go down to Clemson, S.C.  I'm sure there's a couple of Denny's down there."

Boeheim was, of course, referring to Syracuse's impending move to the ACC after this season.  But if he takes a close look at the record book, he'll miss Providence more than just for the food.

His Orange have dominated PC here, and close out having won 11 of the last 13 games played on the Friars' home court.  Can't imagine there is any love lost for SU's moving on, among Friar faithful.

In this latest edition, Providence controlled the tempo of the game and worked the 35-second shot clock to the final few ticks on the offensive end, which limited Syracuse's ability to get out and run.  Behind the dead-eye shooting of junior guard Bryce Cotton in the first half (6-of-7 from the floor, five three's made), PC was able to get out to a 33-24 lead following a 19-5 run - with 4:47 to play.

The nine-point deficit was the 2nd largest faced by the 7th ranked Orange this season.  But the Friars couldn't capitalize and stretch that advantage, going scoreless over that last 4:47.  Still, PC led the Orange 33-30 at halftime - the first time this season SU has trailed at the break.

Syracuse's damage was done inside, with 11 of their 12 first-half field goals in the paint.  That trend continued into the 2nd half, and cost PC dearly.  

As the Friars managed to extend their lead to a six-point edge at 38-32 with 17:31 left, Syracuse hit them with the first of two devestating runs.  An 8-1 breakout gave the Orange their first lead since the 10-minute mark of the 1st half, with St. Andrew's product Michael Carter-Williams connecting from outside.  With PC managing to hang close, tying the game at 47-47 with 10:17 to go, SU pushed the Friars to the brink.

While pushing them around in the paint.

A monster 17-8 run over the next nine minutes put the game out of reach...led by a dominating performance on the backboards.  While the defensive effort was solid for the Friars, the rebounding was not...as 2nd chance opportunities and a 46-25 scoring advantage in the lane ultimately ended thoughts of an upset.  Coupled with a stellar 17-for-18 team performance from the free throw line, SU never gave up the lead once they had it.

"Look at the rebounding numbers, and that's the basketball game," Friar coach Ed Cooley said afterward.  "Jim Boeheim is the best, a Hall-of-Famer, But you don't make the Hall-of-Fame without Hall-of-Fame players."

A couple of those players gave performances worthy of Hall consideration, should they keep it up.  6-8 junior forward C.J. Fair was the star, finishing with 23 points and 11 rebounds - six on the offensive glass.  His athleticism around the basket was superior all night long, while Carter-Williams was solid as well.  The former two-time Rhode Island Player of the Year added 17 points, six assists and five steals playing in front of a large group of family and friends. 

Cotton finished with a game-high 24 points for Providence (8-7, 0-3 Big East), scoring 17 in the first half but limited to seven points on just three shots in the 2nd.  LaDontae Henton was the only other Friar in double figures with 10 points.  Vincent Council, who didn't start the game as Cooley went with 6-9 Sidiki Johnson and a bigger lineup, finished with eight points and a game-high eight assists.

PC's defense limited Syracuse (15-1, 3-0 Big East) to a mere 3-for-21 from the three-point stripe, but the rebounding edge, coupled with the hot free-throw shooting was more than enough to put at least a small smile on coach Boeheim's face.

Until he realized, perhaps, that he may not get back to Providence anytime soon.

Friar Notes

PC's Kadeem Batts was limited to just three points and five rebounds on 1-for-8 shooting...Johnson had another solid night in the paint, scoring eight points and grabbing a team-best seven boards...Henton was limited to just two rebounds...the largest crowd of the season at the Dunk was announced as 11,121 in attendance...SU made 10 straight free throws over the final 1:21 to put the game away...the Friars shot 9-18 from three, but were hurt from the line making just 15-of-23...the rebound margin for Syracuse of +14 was the largest against PC this season...Carter-Williams came into the game leading the nation in assists at 9.8 per game, and leading the Big East with 3.1 steals per contest...freshman Kris Dunn continues to struggle, scoring four points and committing two crucial turnovers during the 2nd half comeback effort in nine total minutes of playing time...Josh Fortune connected on 3-of-7 from three-point range for nine points...the loss is the Friars' 5th straight defeat, while the win is the 5th straight for Syracuse..."I saw a lot of guys grow up today," Cooley said. "We can't build a culture of losing. It's been frustrating. But this has been the best I've felt about our team since we played the University of Rhode Island" on Dec. 6...PC goes back on the road, facing Seton Hall in Newark, NJ Sunday afternoon at 12 Noon (pre-game at 11:45 am on 103.7 FM)...


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