Ziniu Chen | Staff PhotographerMen's Basketball
‘BRING ON GEORGETOWN’: Syracuse routs Providence 84-59 ahead of rivalry matchup with Hoyas
Each Syracuse possession elicited a different emotion on the trip back down the court.
It started with excitement. James Southerland ran down the court, waving his arms wildly after his one-handed alley-oop slam brought the Carrier Dome to life. Then came admiration. Baye Moussa Keita retreated, his tongue hanging from the side of his smiling mouth after Southerland’s two-handed slam expanded the lead to 20. Finally, there was disbelief. Keita smiled widely, looking around to gauge his teammates’ reaction as the Orange headed to the locker room with a 27-point advantage over Providence.
By the time it was done, Syracuse’s dismantling of the Friars felt more like an early-season matchup than it did a Big East contest, something even Brandon Triche brought to the attention of assistant coach Gerry McNamara.
“I said that to G-Mac,” Triche said. “I said, ‘It feels like a nonconference game.’ The way we flowed, defensively, pretty much everybody’s stats.”
Syracuse blew Providence away in the final eight minutes of the first half en route to an 84-59 victory in front of 23,717 on Wednesday night. The Orange (22-4, 10-3 Big East) exploded during a 27-2 run with 8:06 left before the break, going 11-for-13 from the field while the Friars (14-12, 6-8) hit just one of their 11 shots during the run.
“We just started to make shots and they started to miss shots,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “And that’s what happens.”
Southerland and C.J. Fair each scored 20 points to pace the Orange in the rout. Triche chipped in 14 points, and point guard Michael Carter-Williams scored 15 and dished out 12 assists – his first double-digit total since the team’s Big East opener against Rutgers.
The gaudy numbers piled up as a result of Syracuse’s near-perfect first-half run, which came together as a result of more movement offensively in its half-court sets and opportunistic plays in transition that put the game out of reach.
The Orange hit its first six shots of the stretch to turn a two-point lead into a 15-point cushion.
Southerland started the run with an open jumper from the left wing. Then, Trevor Cooney knocked in a pair of field goals before Southerland drilled a 3-pointer to force a Providence timeout.
After a Rakeem Christmas layup, Cooney’s block of Providence guard Vincent Council at the foul line set the stage for the game’s first highlight-reel play – Southerland’s alley-oop slam off of a lob from Triche on the opposite end.
“It was exciting,” Fair said. “We got the fans involved, made some exciting plays.”
Council found Bryce Cotton for an easy layup with four minutes to play, only to watch Syracuse put together another burst and rip off the final 14 points of the half.
Southerland, who scored 12 of his 20 points during the run, knocked down a wide-open 3 from the left wing to push the Orange ahead by 18 with 2:31 before the break. Twenty-four seconds later, after a quick turnover by the Friars’ Kadeem Batts, Carter-Williams fired a pass to Southerland for an easy transition dunk.
That’s when Keita ran back down the floor in awe, feeling Syracuse begin to pick up more steam. Fair tossed in a 3-pointer from the right corner, burning another Providence timeout and prompting Triche to give a confident nod of his head as he headed toward the bench.
Syracuse led by 23, but the Orange still made a pair of impressive plays to end the half up 27. On the first, Carter-Williams threaded the defense with a perfectly placed bounce pass to Fair, who rose up and threw down a powerful left-handed slam. On the second – which resulted in the final field goal of the half – Carter-Williams came up with a steal and lofted a pass from beyond halfcourt for Triche, who was streaking to the basket for the easy layup.
Syracuse led 43-16.
“It was a very good offensive first half,” Boeheim said. “Second half, it was just treading the water, basically.”
So as the teams played out the final 20 minutes with the game already decided, it became a chance to add to the highlight reel, as Southerland and Christmas did with alley-oops of their own.
“I felt like the Clippers out there,” Southerland said, referring to the “Lob City” moniker given to the NBA franchise. “It’s definitely a great night when I’m throwing lobs to Rakeem.”
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