Syracuse v. Pittsburgh — What we learned

Syracuse's offense has significantly improved

Syracuse advanced to the Big East semifinals with a 62-59 win over Pittsburgh on Thursday afternoon. Here are some thoughts from the game:

James adds more than a pretty jump shot

Another amazing performance in the Big East Tournament was exactly what Syracuse needed to get by Pittsburgh. But it wasn’t just his shooting that was so important. Southerland crashed the boards and was able to get some second chance points and make some important defensive plays inside. But those weren’t the most important things. In the second half, Southerland was only able to get open for one three-pointer. Pittsburgh was smothering him. He was getting doubled, sometimes tripled teamed, leaving other players wide open to make plays. He not only boosts the offense by making shots but he gets other players open, which is why Southerland being on is so important.

» Related: Orange take one more bow in New York

Syracuse’s offense has significantly improved

The importance of free throws

Tournament games always seem to be decided by free throws. It’s important that this team starts knocking some down. Syracuse didn’t take its first free throw until the second half of this game. The final tally was 6-for-10 from the line, which is good, but not great. Brandon Triche, who shoots around 75%, missed both of his free throws in the second half. That can’t happen if he’s at the line at a crucial point late in the game. The guy who did make them? Carter-Williams. This team needs to knock down its free throws in order to make a run.

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Carter-Williams the go-to guy?

The big criticism of SU every year is that the team doesn’t have a “go-to guy”. Well, the Orange needed a go-to guy late in this game and it ended up in the hands of Michael Carter-Williams. He slashed to the basket and laid the ball up at an important part late in the game. He also hit those foul shots to seal the victory. But what I like most about going to Carter-Williams late in the game is that he’s able to find players better than anyone else on the team. So if the defense decides to double him, he’ll make the right choice and find the open man.

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