Syracuse rallied from a 9-point first half deficit to defeat Providence, 72-66. Here are some thoughts from the game.
Syracuse rotation narrowing down
At the beginning of the season, it looked like Syracuse would once again have one of the deepest teams in the country. Things change. Tonight, the Orange rotation was virtually narrowed down to just five. Souterland, Fair, Christmas and Carter-Williams played 38 minutes and Triche played 39. The next highest minute total was Trevor Cooney with just three. Keita, Grant and Coleman all played just two minutes, making no real contribution to the game.
So can Syracuse survive on a five-man rotation? Absolutely not. Trevor Cooney needs to step up in case Carter-Williams or Triche get into foul trouble. Keita or Coleman need to step up since Christmas is currently the only big man playing substantial minutes. When the time comes, the bench will need to play, and play well.
Orange bigs step up
If it wasn’t for Fair and Christmas, the outcome of this game would have been far different. Fair led the way with 23 points and 11 rebounds and Christmas scored a career-high 15 points. Providence couldn’t stop the bigs inside and a big reason was because of second-chance opportunities. The two combined for 10 offensive rebounds and didn’t squander chances for put back buckets.
But the offensive end of the floor wasn’t the only place these two succeeded. The interior defense remained strong for yet another game. Christmas and Fair combined for seven blocks and more importantly, completely shut down the Friars’ Kadeem Batts, who scored just three points. Batts averages over 16 points a game but not against the tough Orange interior defense.
Foul shots finally falling
The Orange loss to Temple could be blamed on free throw shooting. The foul shots haven’t been falling all season but they started to tonight. Syracuse shot 94% from the stripe, missing just once. CJ Fair made 9-of-10, Christmas and Carter-Williams hit all three of theirs and Southerland added two more to that. This is a trend that needs to continue for the Orange. Foul shots are crucial in close games like the one tonight.