A quick take on Syracuse’s 72-66 win over Providence at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Rhode Island:
WHAT HAPPENED: A Vincent Council 3-pointer with 6:16 left cut the Syracuse lead to 54-53 in a back-and-forth affair. From there, Syracuse went on a 10-2 run and put the game out of reach after CJ Fair hit a pair of free throws to make it 64-55 with 1:21 left. The Orange held Providence scoreless from the 4:30 mark until there was only 1:10 left in the game and the Friars would get no closer than 4 points the rest of the way.
ANALYSIS: Providence executed a good game plan against the Orange. On defense, they prevented Syracuse from getting out on the break and made SU earn points in the halfcourt set. On offense, the Friars had success early on shooting over the top of the zone. But for the second straight game, the Orange was able to grind out a win. They did it by getting inside and hitting the offensive glass. Syracuse was 23-41 inside the arc (we’ll get to the dismal shooting from downtown in a bit), while picking up 16 offensive rebounds. Meanwhile, the Friars could only get 12 baskets from inside the arc.
HERO: Fair led Syracuse with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks and hit four big free throws in the final 30 seconds when the Friars had closed within 4 points twice. Rakeem Christmas scored a career high 15 points and added 8 rebounds. For all of their free throw shooting woes this season, Syracuse was 17-18 from the line. Michael Carter-Williams, coming off his worst shooting performance of the season, stuffed the stat sheet, with 17 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals and had just 1 turnover. For the Friars, Bryce Cotton hit his first five 3-pointers of the game and led Providence with 24 points. But he only scored 7 points in the second half, and didn’t make a single 3 after Syracuse extended their zone to contain him.
ZERO: James Southerland was ice cold. Though he finished with 13 points and 7 rebounds, he was 5-16 from the field and 1-8 from downtown. Brandon Triche, who had come in averaging 22.5 points in Big East play was just 2-10 from the field for 4 points. It was one of the Orange’s worst shooting performances from downtown this season, as they finished 3-21. Kadeem Batts struggled inside the Orange zone, and missed all 7 of his shots.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse returns home to the Carrier Dome to play Villanova on Saturday at noon. TV: Big East Network/SNY/Time Warner.