Southerland's shooting propels Syracuse past Pittsburgh

On the heels of a 20-point performance against Seton Hall, James Southerland scored another 20 in a 62-59 victory over No. 17 Pittsburgh

After beating Seton Hall just a day earlier, it was unclear how No. 19 Syracuse (25-8) would fare against the extremely physical No. 17 Pittsburgh Panthers. The last time the two teams met, the Orange was without James Southerland, leading to an Orange loss. But Southerland’s presence played a major role in Thursday afternoon's 62-59 victory.

Southerland hit five three-pointers in the first half – and six overall – for the second straight game. After Wednesday's 20 points on 6-for-9 shooting from behind the arc, Southerland was a perfect 6-for-6 from three-point land Thursday afternoon.

“I'm feeling real confident in my jump shot, and my teammates are feeling the same way,” Southerland said. He also noted that his successful shooting in the first half often has repercussions in the second half. “Going into the next half, it opens up a lot of opportunities for everyone else.”  

“I just make sure every shot goes in,” Southerland said. “Being a great shooter, I'm not going to get open looks just running plays, so I just have to keep moving.”

Southerland led the team in scoring for the second-straight day, but also added six rebounds, two steals, and one assist. But, he was not the hero Thursday, as Syracuse's 13-point lead at halftime dwindled in a sub-par offensive second half. Syracuse scored only 22 points in the half, but free throw shooting down the stretch by sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams saved the Orange. Carter-Williams scored all 11 of his points in the second half, including 6-for-8 from the charity stripe.

With just under nine minutes left in the game, Pittsburgh's Tray Woodall hit a three to bring the Panthers within four of the Orange lead. Carter-Williams responded in kind, being set up for a three from the top of the key in a return from a time out. Carter-Williams was fouled three times after that, and sunk five of his six shots.

“I've just got a lot of confidence in myself, and my teammates have a lot of confidence in me,” Carter-Williams said. “Whether it's to take the shoot the ball, or find someone to take the shot, I want to contribute.”

Carter-Williams’ free throw shooting has been questioned all year. He missed some major free throws at the end of the Temple game at Madison Square Garden early in the season, in the Orange's first loss of the year.

“I didn't necessarily think about the Temple game,” Carter-Williams said, “but it's definitely something that's motivated me throughout the season. I just wanted this win really bad, so we could get another crack at Georgetown.”

Junior CJ Fair scored 13 points and led the team with seven rebounds. Senior Brandon Triche added 12 points and three assists and rebounds. Junior Baye-Moussa Kieta added four points.

Now that the Orange have beaten Pittsburgh, all thoughts have drifted towards Friday night's Big East semifinal against Georgetown. The Hoyas beat Syracuse twice during the regular season, including a devastating 61-39 win last Saturday.

“We came to New York to get playing better, and we've played better two games,” head coach Jim Boeheim said. “Going into tomorrow night- they're a tremendous team. If you don't play well, they're going to beat you.”

“I remember beating them twice and then them beating us in the Big East tournament; We're trying to pretty much return the favor” Brandon Triche said. “Any team that beats you by twenty points- you want revenge.”

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