Syracuse improved its record to 19-0 (6-0 Big East) with a 78-55 victory over Providence on Saturday night, matching a school record with the 1999-2000 team for most wins to start the season.
“We are just trying to get ready for the next game, that’s all we thought about and that’s what we are going to keep doing,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “That’s the only way to approach basketball games.”
It has proven to be an effective approach so far, as the No. 1 ranked Orange currently hold a 1.5 game lead in the Big East.
“We have the confidence that we’re the best team in the country and no team is better than us,” forward CJ Fair said. “We don’t overlook anyone, but we approach it like we’re not going to lose any games.”
On Saturday, the Orange took command of the game by implementing a full court press. It helped SU go on a 15-0 run to turn a 17-16 lead into a 32-16 blow out toward the end of the first half. The lead would eventually balloon up to 30 points in the second half.
“When we put the press on, that got us going, that got our momentum going,” Fair said. “We were causing turnovers and missed shots.”
The press was particularly effective because Providence point guard Vincent Council was held out of the game for unspecified reasons. Bryce Cotton took over ball handling duties in Council’s place, but struggled through a 3-for-9 shooting performance for seven points.
The Friars committed 22 turnovers and shot just 35 percent from the field, as the game went very differently from the teams’ first matchup in Providence on Jan. 4.
“(The press) surprised them,” guard Dion Waiters said. “We didn’t do it the first time (in Providence). It made them rush and they felt uncomfortable.”
Meanwhile, Syracuse felt plenty comfortable on a night when No. 3 North Carolina, No. 7 Michigan State and No. 13 Michigan were upset.
“Watching games today, a couple of teams were not ready and they got beat,” Boeheim said. “We have to get ready or we are going to get beat. We just have to get ready every night.”
Kicia Sears contributed to this story with reporting from Syracuse.