After 12 minutes of even play, #8 Syracuse blew out Providence over the remaining eight minutes of the first half en route to an 84-59 victory at the Carrier Dome. The Orange (22-4, 10-3 Big East) closed the half with a 31-4 run, delivering a knockout punch to the Friars (14-12, 6-8) and effectively ending the game at intermission. Reserve forward James Southerland was the driving force, piling up 14 points in that span. SU had an easy time of it on offense, connecting on 56.6 percent of their field goals, including 63 percent in the first half, and stifled the visitors on defense, permitting them to make under 35 percent of their tries.
Syracuse opened the game grabbing a 3-0 lead, but Providence surged back to take their lone leads of the night at 6-5 just over two minutes into the action and again at 8-7 a couple minutes later. The Orange scored the next five points to take a four-point lead, but the Friars scored the next four to tie the game at 12 each. SU went up by four, gave up a basket, then opened the floodgates, scoring the next 13 points for a 29-14 lead with 4:34 on the clock. A Providence lay-up broke their drought, but Syracuse scored the final 14 points of the half for a 43-16 stranglehold on the game at the break.
The Orange nudged their lead out to 30 points in the first 90 seconds of the second half, then put it into cruise control, giving up the next nine points of the game to let the Friars within 47-26. SU responded with five straight points to trigger a 7-1 burst to back up by 27. Providence clawed to within 18 points with just under nine minutes remaining and again with 7:35 to go, but the Orange ended the minor threat with eight straight points to take a 74-48 lead with less then five minutes remaining. SU would stretch their lead out to 28 at one point before Jim Boeheim cleared his bench with 1:10 to go.
C.J. Fair and James Southerland each piled up 20 points for the Orange. Fair collected ten rebounds for his third consecutive double-double and Southerland did his damage in an exceptionally efficient manner, draining 7-of-8 shots, including all three of his triples. Michael Carter-Williams also had a double-double, finishing the game with 15 points and a dozen assists. Brandon Triche chipped in with 14 points.
Syracuse will be in a battle for first place in the Big East on Saturday when they take on longtime rival #11 Georgetown at the Carrier Dome for the last time in conference play. The game has been declared a sellout, as a Carrier Dome-record 35,012 tickets have been sold for the game against the Hoyas (20-4, 10-3). Georgetown has rolled up eight straight wins heading into the tilt with SU. CBS will carry the game which starts at 4:00pm.Jim Stechschulte (Follow on Twitter @dsafetyguy)