Each Thursday over the summer, The Juice Online will be counting down the top 10 moments in the 2012-13 basketball season. We continue our countdown with No. 7, Syracuse’s game against Pitt in the Big East championship quarterfinals
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse and Pittsburgh will meet again in a different conference. But in the two team’s last battle as Big East foes in the conference tournament quarterfinals, the Orange hung on for a 62-59 win.
Syracuse forward James Southerland gave the Orange the lead early, and Michael Carter-Williams helped finish Pitt in the end. The two teams will jump from the Big East to the ACC on July 1.
Southerland was on fire from distance, going a perfect 6 for 6 from 3-point land. It set a new Big East tournament record for 3s without a miss.
“I didn’t realize I was 6 for 6 until I looked down at the paper now,” said Southerland, who finished with 20 points. “I don’t think about it. I just go out and play and make sure I make every shot.”
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Despite Southerland’s efforts, Syracuse was still only up one point with 30 seconds left. That’s when Carter-Williams finished the Panthers off with some timely free throw shooting.
Carter-Williams sank four free throws in the final half minute, and also added a late steal that put the game out of reach. On the afternoon, he finished with 11 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds (and 6 turnovers).
“Earlier in the year, he missed some against Temple in this building,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “He’s a competitor. He’s worked hard at it. I could see that he was determined.”
Boeheim was referring to a 83-79 loss to Temple on Dec. 22 at the Garden where Carter-Williams went 7 for 15 from the line, with 3 misses in his 4 attempts with under two minutes left.
After that game, the sophomore guard took the blame.
“If I had made my free throws,” Carter-Williams said, “we would’ve won the game.”
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Fast forward three months later, and that’s exactly what Carter-Williams did, as he scored the final seven points for Syracuse, including 5 for 6 from the line.
“I’ve had some down moments at the free throw line this season, but overall, I’ve been OK at the free throw line,” Carter-Williams said. “I just wanted to go up there and knock them down.”
WHY IT’S NO. 7: If there is a game that you can point to where the Orange turned their season around, this would be it. Syracuse finished the season losing four of five games, including a humiliating 61-39 loss to Georgetown. A 75-63 win over Seton Hall in the Big East tournament second round wasn’t exactly going to convince anyone that the Orange were tournament ready. But a win over the No. 17 team in the country, who had beaten them by 10 earlier in the year, showed that the Orange’s season still had life.
Check in next week as we reveal No. 6 on our countdown. Also Tweet us your memories from this game, or leave your comments below.
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