A quick take on Syracuse’s 87-73 win against Providence:
WHAT HAPPENED: Providence was not intimidated by No. 1 Syracuse and played SU basket for basket, going into break trailing just 36-34. The Orange responded by going on a 9-0 run early in the second half to take a 49-38 lead with 16:24 left. But SU’s lead never grew more than 14 points, as the Friars hung around thanks to 48 percent shooting from the field. The game wasn’t fully decided until a corner 3 from Dion Waiters with 4:31 left gave the Orange an 11 point lead.
ANALYSIS: Syracuse’s depth was on display tonight, especially at the center position. With Fab Melo and Rakeem Christmas in foul trouble the whole and Baye Keita sitting out with a hip injury, SU coach Jim Boeheim was forced to play CJ Fair at center during a stretch in the second half. While certainly not ideal, Fair held his own, even drawing a charge on one play. With its defense struggling, the Orange relied on its offense and it produced as Syracuse shot 60.4 percent from the field and 10-for-17 from 3-point land.
HERO: Brandon Triche led the way with 16 points, hitting four 3-pointers. Kris Joseph (13), Fab Melo (11), Dion Waiters (13) and CJ Fair (12) were all in double figures, as well. Vincent Council paced the Friars with 17 points.
ZERO: Syracuse’s defense, which has been its biggest strength this season, was lackadaisical against Providence. SU forced just 12 turnovers, while the Friars were 22-for-45 from the field and shot 46.2 percent from beyond the arc. The Friars also outrebounded the Orange 25-22 and gave up nine offensive rebounds.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse returns home to play Marquette on Sat, Jan 7. at 4:00 p.m. TV: BIG EAST Network/SNY.