SU shakes off two-game losing streak in victory over Pirates

Despite a horrid first half, the Orange rallied to beat Seton Hall, 75-63, and move on to play Pittsburgh.

After an incredibly slow start, Syracuse pulled out the victory over Seton Hall in the second round of the final Big East tournament.

The No. 19 Orange (24-8) won 75-63, but were down by as many as 10 in the first half, before mounting a comeback to tie the game up at halftime. The tie allowed for a reset for the second half, which turned out to be all Syracuse.

Syracuse did not hold a lead at all through the first half, and Seton Hall replicated that statistic in the second half. The Orange were led by senior James Southerland with 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting, including 6-for-9 from behind the arc. Sophomore Michael Carter-Williams also played well, tying a Big East tournament record with 14 assists.

Southerland accounted for 50-percent of the Orange's 34 first half points, including 5-for-7 shooting from three. 

“I'm just always focused on the next shot,” Southerland said. “Shot goes in, doesn't matter. Shot doesn't go in, doesn't matter.”

Southerland credited his father, James Southerland Jr., for helping him work on his shot throughout the years. “He taught me the form, and was consistent with me,” he said. Southerland added that they’re been working on his shot since he was born. “There’s definitely a picture of me with a Fisher-Price basketball,” he said.

Southerland's deep threat forced Seton Hall to spread the court more on defense, which led to the floor opening up, especially in the second half. Although Southerland only had three points in the half, his presence was felt, most noticeably from Syracuse's other two main scorers, CJ Fair and Brandon Triche.

Triche scored 11 points in the second half, for total of 17 on the day, on a return-to-form game for the senior leader. Triche had scored 15 points only once in the previous six games, counting back to the regular season match against the Pirates. Triche also had five assists.

CJ Fair had 14 second-half points, after making just one shot out of two attempts during the first half. Along with his 16 total points, Fair grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

Carter-Williams' record-tying performance brought him into the same company as Syracuse great Pearl Washington, Mark Jackson and Brandon Knight. Although impressive, Carter-Williams was less impressed with his record-tying dishes than another stat: he only turned the ball over once.

“I was proud of myself,” Carter-Williams said. “It was great to have limited turnovers and get back to how I usually play.”

It was an emotional game for coach Jim Boeheim, who is coaching his final Big East tournament in Madison Square Garden. “I was a sophomore in college when I first came to the Garden,” Boeheim said. “It's been such an amazing place.”

The third round of the tournament includes a Syracuse-Pittsburgh rematch at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday. Pittsburgh beat a James Southerland-less Orange team 65-55 on Feb. 2.

“They're a physical team,” Carter-Williams said, “but we're prepared.”

Triche, who has faced four years worth of physical Pittsburgh teams is not concerned about how the Orange will match up against them.

“It's another win,” Triche said, “that’s it.”

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