Dec 30, 2010 Kareem Obeid Uncategorized
By now, everyone that follows Syracuse basketball is quite aware that the Orange won a fair share of non-conference games (William & Mary, Michigan State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State) by close margins.
So, having survived those tests, SU went out last Tuesday night and, in a hard-fought Big East opener in the Carrier Dome, beat the stubborn Providence Friars 81-74.
“In the beginning of the season, those (close) games helped us,” Syracuse guard Brandon Triche said. “William & Mary, Michigan, Georgia Tech, and Northern Iowa were all tough games. We were able to pull them out. That made us tougher as a team.
“When (this game) got down to four points, we were very comfortable. We knew that we were going make a play.”
For SU, it was just another win over Providence, whom it leads in head-to-head meetings 46-10. The Orange shot consistently well, finishing at 25-for-52, or 48.1 percent. They held their opposition to 39.7 percent from the field and 26.7% beyond the arc.
SU remained unblemished at 14-0 as the Friars fell to 11-3, and though it has played very well, the Orange cannot take that success for granted as a difficult Big East schedule (including Saturday’s 2011 curtain-raiser against Notre Dame) looms ahead.
In the last two minutes, SU was pushed, but Scoop Jardine calmly knocked down a 12-foot jumper. Providence could not force a turnover and, were forced to foul. The Orange impressively made 5 out of 6 free throws in the waning seconds.
After all of his inconsistent shooting in previous games, Kris Joseph has turned it around. Joseph led his team in scoring with 27 points on eight-for-13 shooting. In addition, he was multifaceted, grabbing five rebounds and doling out four assists.
Jardine added 21 points and seven assists, including the critical free throws in the concluding moments – and all this after a first half where he had just four points. In a three-minute span of the second half, Jardine transcended his performance to a higher level, erupting for nine of the Orange’s 14 points during a critical stretch.
Providence forward Marshon Brooks had a tremendous performance of 27 points on 10-for-22 shooting. Guard Bilal Dixon, sophomore Greg Coleman and Vince Council combined to score 31 points for the visiting Friars.
A more confident Triche gave his team balanced attack delivering 15 points on six-for-11 shooting from the floor. Rick Jackson just missed his 10th double-double, but posted nine points and 17 rebounds. Jackson was a one man wrecking crew in the paint, accounting for 48 percent of SU’s rebounds.
In the first half, SU built a 21-15 advantage thanks to Joseph, who dominated the Providence defenders by driving to the basket and also hitting perimeter shots.
The Orange raised the pressure, engineering an 8-2 run in a span of 2:12 midway through the half. The defense created three straight turnovers and intercepted errant passes that led to fast breaks. They capped off a terrific play when Jardine threw a beautiful pass to Jackson, who scored on a powerful dunk.
Now up 35-25, SU appeared to be cruising. But the Friars fought back, as it would the remainder of the game. Brooks matched Joseph with 17 first-half points, keeping Providence within sight as SU still led by 10, 45-35, at the break.
The second half was a grinding battle. SU saw the lead shrink to 51-47. The Friars featured a balanced scoring attack with the combined efforts of Council, Dixon and 7-0 center Kevin Batts that made it close – but then went cold again, missing five straight shots.
The Orange’s half-court defense was tenacious, compounding Providence’s misery into a scoring drought. Jackson dominated the backboards and dished to Jardine who scored on fast break lay-ups. It added up to a 14-2 run and a 66-49 advantage with just under 12 minutes to play.
There was little illusion that Providence would submit to defeat, though, as it answered with an huge run of its own, starting with a Council 3 pointer, followed up by Coleman making a pair of treys.
SU’s margin was cut to 68-63, and Jackson had to leave the court when he picked up his fourth foul. The 20,388 fans in the Dome were now nervous.
However, their fear was short lived. After beating the Friars’ press, Jardine lobbed a pass to Joseph who scored on an ally-oop dunk. The made free throws followed, and SU remained unbeaten – at least for three more days, anyway.