No. 7 Syracuse extends home winning streak in win over Villanova

The Orange come out on top against rival Villanova without forward James Southerland, who was ruled out indefinitely because of eligibility issues.

The No. 7 Syracuse men’s basketball team (16-1, 4-0 Big East) held off the Villanova Wildcats (11-5, 2-1 Big East) 72-61 Saturday at the Carrier Dome. The win extended Syracuse’s home winning streak to 34, the longest in the nation.

“I thought this was our grittiest win of the year,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “Everybody just dug in defensively and we couldn’t get anything going offensively.”

The victory came a few hours after university officials ruled Orange senior forward James Southerland ineligible for an indefinite period of time. Boeheim declined to answer detailed questions regarding Southerland’s suspension.

“The statement’s out, I can’t say anything else,” Boeheim said.

Junior forward C.J. Fair led the Orange with 22 points, five rebounds and four rejections. Sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams added 10 more and 7 assists. Syracuse also saw three freshmen step up with Southerland being out. Guard Trevor Cooney, forward Jerami Grant, and center DaJuan Coleman combined for 24 points with Grant posting a career-high 13 points.

“[Grant] had an unbelievable first half,” Boeheim said. “He kept us in there.”

The Orange needed Grant’s 7 first-half points as it couldn’t find its rhythm offensively before halftime. Syracuse shot 30.3 percent (10-of-33) from the field and 14.3 percent (1-of-7) from beyond the arc. Syracuse’s defense did, however, hold the Wildcats’ offense to 31 percent (9-of-29) from the field and to 16.7 percent (2-of-12) from 3-point range.

The second half proved to be a different story for the Orange, as Syracuse found its rhythm offensively to the tune of 54.5 percent shooting (12-of22) from the field and 42.9 percent (3-of-7) from beyond the arc. The Orange’s defense also held Villanova to 31.5 percent shooting (8-of-25) from the field in the second half.

“We just kept on attacking the basket,” sophomore forward Rakeem Christmas said.

The Orange remains undefeated in conference play, but will play at Louisville next weekend without Southerland.

“It hurts to see one of your teammates not being able to play,” Carter-Williams said. “But we have people [constantly stepping up].”

Carter-Williams also said that the key to beating the Cardinals will be the team sticking to its defensive principles and dealing with their pressure.

“We need to play our game and we’ll be fine [against Louisville],” Carter Williams said.

Syracuse and the Louisville Cardinals will face each other Saturday, Jan. 19 at the KFC Yum! Center.

Post new comment

* Field must be completed for your comment to appear on The NewsHouse
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.