The game could have been the classic trap game. Syracuse was, after all, playing a lesser Big East team just days before Georgetown comes to the Carrier Dome before a record crowd.
But it wasn’t. Instead, it was one of the Orange’s most complete games of the season—SU throttled Providence 84-59—as it heads into Saturday’s matchup against Georgetown that will feature a crowd topping 35,000.
Wednesday’s game against the Friars had “just” 23,000-plus viewers on hand. And while both the crowd and the Orange seemingly got off to a calm start, SU finally broke open the game after it began with a 12-12 score.
“It was close for a little bit but then we got moving,” Michael Carter-Williams said. “Our defense was great in the first half too, it just led us to fastbreaks.”
The 12-12 tie didn’t last long as SU shot lights-out from the field in the first half en route to a commanding 43-16 lead at the half. C.J. Fair and James Southerland each totaled 20 points, while Carter-Williams notched a double-double with 15 points and 12 assists.
“I think it was just good for us,” Carter-Williams said. “You know finally, we’re back to playing Syracuse basketball.”
Jim Boeheim said after the game that the team could not have played much better than it did in the first half. Whether it was Carter-Williams coming up with a steal and dishing to Brandon Triche for a three, or Southerland passing to Carter-Williams and then receiving the ball again from MCW and dunking it via a no-look pass, the offense was rolling.
Sure, the team knew Georgetown was coming to town soon. But that didn’t render Providence unimportant.
“We definitely heard about it, we talked about it a little bit,” Carter-Williams said, “but coach just kept telling us, ‘One game at a time, every game’s a big game, there’s no game that’s not a big game.’”
And while the second half was essentially a game of SU trying to stave off Providence, it had its fair share of highlights as the offense continued to click.
A little past the halfway mark in the second half, Triche grabbed a pass thrown nearly down the whole court, completed the layup, and got fouled in the process. That made the lead 66-45. Later on, Trevor Cooney gathered the ball on the Providence end and passed to Carter-Williams who then threw it up in the air for Fair, who slammed it home for a 78-50 lead.
“You need a few games where you beat a team by 20 or so,” Triche said. “I didn’t really think it was gonna be Providence, but we just played a good game and everything came together today.”
Boeheim summed the game up simply: “We just started to make shots,” he said, “and they started to miss shots.”
After the game, the players acknowledged that yes, even though they were solely focused on Providence on Wednesday night, they know what looms ahead.
Wednesday’s offensive outburst and equally impressive defensive effort puts SU in a favorable position moving forward.
“Playing Providence, you look at fans, they might overlook them but you can’t overlook anybody in the Big East,” Fair said. “Now we gotta move on to Georgetown and take care of business. Everyone wants to get a win. We just gotta make sure we get a win.”Rachel Marcus (Follow on Twitter @racmar)