No. 19 Syracuse beats Seton Hall 75-63
NEW YORK (AP) — Jim Boeheim couldn't help but think of the last three-plus decades as he entered Madison Square Garden on Wednesday for a big game for Syracuse.
The Orange managed a 75-63 victory over Seton Hall to advance to the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament — Syracuse's last Big East tournament as it heads for the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.
"I was thinking about all the times coming here," Boeheim said after his 48th Big East tournament win, 13 more than the second-place coach. "I first came to the Garden when I was a sophomore in college, the old, old Garden. Seems like about 50 years ago. Oh, it was 50 years ago.
"I was thinking in the locker room before the game, about some of the games, and some of the highlights. Things have kind of been two years coming, but now that it's here, your whole life has been spent in this league, and the last 31 years coming to this building, that's a lot. That's a lot of memories, a lot of time."
James Southerland hit five 3-pointers in the first half to keep No. 19 Syracuse in the game and Brandon Triche keyed a big second-half run for the Orange.
Fifth-seeded Syracuse (24-8) extended its Big East tenure with the win and the Orange will play fourth-seeded and 17th-ranked Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Ironically, both Syracuse and Pittsburgh are ACC-bound after this season.
Syracuse, which had lost four of its last five games, looked more like the team that was second in the league in scoring (72.3). The Orange looked nothing like the team that managed just 39 points in a 22-point loss to Georgetown to close the regular season.
Syracuse, which managed the fewest points since a 36-35 win over Kent State on Dec. 1, 1962, matched its total from the Georgetown loss with its second field goal of second half for a 39-34 lead.
Southerland scored all but three of his 20 points in the first half, which finished in a 34-34 tie. Triche finished with 17 points and seven of those were consecutive points he scored in the 19-2 run that turned a 46-all tie into a 65-48 Syracuse lead with 4:41 to play.
Michael Carter-Williams, who is fourth in the NCAA at 7.58 assists per game, had 14, including two impressive alley-oop passes for dunks.
"Our offensive movement was the best it's been probably all year. We really moved the ball," Boeheim said. "Mike played, I think, his best game of the year. James kept us in it when we weren't playing well. And then Brandon and C.J. (Fair) got going the second half.
"For us to be effective, Mike has to make plays, and Brandon and C.J. and James have to score. That's what happened in this game."
Aaron Cosby had 22 points for the 12th-seeded Pirates (15-18), who beat South Florida 46-42 in overtime in the opening round on Tuesday.
Seton Hall, which has been beset by injuries all season, couldn't match the depth of the Orange. When center Eugene Teague, who had 13 points, picked up his third foul early in the second half it was just minutes later that the Orange took off on their game-breaking run.
"I usually don't get emotional at the end of the year but this one hurts because it was such a frustrating year," Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. "I think I kind of knew how we could have been all year if we'd been healthy, and I feel bad for these guys because they really had to deal with a lot of negativity and a lot of frustration from the fact that it's hard to explain that you go into this league or any league with six guys, 5 1-2 healthy guys."
Both teams had great games from beyond the 3-point line. Syracuse was 9 of 15 with Southerland going 6 of 9. The Pirates were 10 of 20 with Cosby making 4 of 6.
Seton Hall came into the game second in the league shooting 36.3 percent while the Orange came in shooting 31.3 percent, 12th in the conference.
Triche hit a 3-pointer to start his 7-0 run and when it went through he gave a fist pump, a rare show of emotion for the senior.
"I haven't made a 3-pointer in like a month. So I figured I'd celebrate a little bit," he said exaggerating the drought by 10 days.
Southerland had also been struggling for long range, going 1 for 13 in the last two games combined.
"I thought I did a good job of moving the ball. I'm capable of spreading out the floor," he said before looking ahead. "I know Pitt plays a physical game. We're going to go out and be physical and move the ball around. We'll be tough to guard."
Seton Hall led by 10 points three times in the first half when both teams started their impressive displays from 3-point range.
Both teams hit six 3s, with Syracuse taking nine shots from beyond the arc and Seton Hall 12. The Pirates started 6 of 8 on 3-point attempts with Kyle Smith, a fifth-year transfer from Iona starting for just the 14th time this season, going 3 of 3.
Teague made two free throws with 8:33 left in the first half to give the Pirates a 28-19 lead. Syracuse, behind the active play of reserve forward Baye Moussa Keita, closed the half on a 9-2 run. Southerland started the run with his fifth 3 of the half and Keita closed it with a drive and one of two free throws to make it 34-all.