Syracuse University's men's basketball team was fortunate to escape with a 62-61 win over upset-minded DePaul on Jan. 30 in suburban Chicago.
Even the SU players admitted that their performance was lackluster. Still, the Orange avoided falling into the pit of a trap game and, in the process, climbed to the no. 3 ranking in both the AP and coaches' polls, behind only Kansas and Villanova.
Back in the Carrier Dome in front of 20,205 Tuesday night, SU used its size, speed, and depth to overpower Providence in more convincing fashion, winning by a score of 85-68.
That made it official -- SU is off to its best start in school history, posting a record of 22-1, 9-1 in the Big East. SU continues to be undaunted by the challenge of any opponent winning its ninth game in a row.
The Orange's defense scripted a major role in the outcome shutting down the Friars high-powered offense. Providence, tops in the nation in scoring, averaging 86.6 points per game, was hindered from 3-point range, going six-for-21 (28.6 percent).
Forward Kris Joseph contributed a career-best performance, leading all scorers with 23 points and four steals. He has scored in double figures in eight of Syracuse's last 11 games.
Joseph's frontcourt mate, Arinze Onuaku, reasserted himself on both ends of the court, adding a season-high 20 points and blocking four shots. Both Joseph and Onuaku combined shot impressively from the floor, going a combined 19-for-23 (82 percent).
Brandon Triche chipped in with a very solid performance of 15 points, four assists, and committed no turnovers, a contrast from recent games.
Midway into the first half, a big scare took place as Wesley Johnson fell down on a collision play that sent hushed tones over the silenced Carrier Dome crowd.
Scoop Jardine threw an ally-oop pass to Johnson who was fouled hard on the play. Johnson an All-American candidate and a front-runner for Big East Player of the Year, completed a full somersault landing forward on his shoulder.