Providence entered play Wednesday night with a poor defensive reputation and proved it in the second half, allowing #1 Syracuse to open up a tight game and secure an 87-73 road win. The Orange (16-0, 3-0 Big East) drilled 73 percent of their field goals in the second half, which allowed them to get away with a poor defensive effort against the Friars (11-5, 0-3). SU permitted the hosts to connect on 49 percent of their field goals, but their offensive proficiency – six players finished with double digits in scoring – saved their bacon.
The opening stanza was tightly contested, as the score was tied on seven occasions and neither team led by more than five points at any time. Providence was the first to reach that high water mark, scoring six straight points to grab a 14-9 lead with less than seven minutes off the clock. Almost immediately after, Syracuse rattled off eight straight points to snag a 19-16 lead as the half neared its midpoint. The Friars rose to the challenge and grabbed the lead right back. SU achieved their five-point lead at 33-28 with three minutes before halftime. Providence scored the next six points, but a late three put Syracuse up 36-34 at halftime.
Just over two minutes into the second half, the Orange exploded, extending a two-point margin to 52-39 lead courtesy of a 12-1 burst. Brandon Triche had two triples to cap that streak, then tacked on another moments later as SU extended their lead to 14. The lead stayed in double figures until the Friars trimmed it to seven with under ten minutes to play. The Orange responded with five points to stretch the lead out to 67-55 with eight minutes left. Providence would not lay down, though, and fought back within six. SU responded with a 9-2 burst to effectively end the game at 81-67 with under a minute on the clock. Syracuse actually stretched their lead to 16 points with 19 seconds to go on a spectacular windmill dunk by James Southerland before settling for the 14-point win.
Brandon Triche led a balanced scoring attack for the Orange, finishing with 16 points, including connecting on four three-point shots. C.J. Fair led five other SU players in double figures with 14 points. Kris Joseph and Dion Waiters each added 13 points while Fab Melo chipped in with 11.
Scoop Jardine posted his second career double-double, finishing with ten points and 11 assists with only one turnover in the game. It was a fitting performance for Jardine, who earlier in the day was named one of the 20 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top point guard.
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