PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Syracuse stood tall down the stretch. C.J. Fair scored 23 points and added 11 rebounds, Michael Carter-Williams had 17 points and the seventh-ranked Orange continually pounded the offensive glass down the stretch of a 72-66 victory over Providence on Wednesday night. Rakeem Christmas netted 15 points and James Southerland added 13 for Syracuse (15-1, 3-0 Big East), which won its fifth straight game thanks to a dominating performance on the boards, outrebounding the Friars 41-27 overall and 18-9 on the offensive end. Bryce Cotton scored 17 of his 24 points in the first half for Providence (8-7, 0-3), which dropped its fifth straight. LaDontae Henton had 10 points for the Friars. Trailing by as many as nine on two occasions in the first half and three at halftime, the Orange crept their way back into the contest midway through the second half thanks to second-, third- and sometimes fourth-chance opportunities. Syracuse took its first lead since owning a 19-18 advantage when Christmas made two free throws to put the Orange in front 40-39. Cotton later put the Friars back on top when he followed his own missed 3-pointer with a huge offensive rebound that he then dropped through the net on a nifty reverse layup with 13:07 remaining. Syracuse's height advantage was never more evident than when the Orange yanked down four straight offensive rebounds before Fair banked in a layup and Southerland hit a 3-pointer for a 47-43 lead with 11:20 to go. With the home crowd behind them, the Friars kept their composure against the national powerhouse and tied the game on two straight layups from Vincent Council. That's as close as they got. The Orange continued to crash the boards as Brandon Triche followed a miss with a layup and Fair then slipped behind the defense along the baseline and slammed home a perfect alley-oop pass from Carter-Williams to give Syracuse a 51-48 lead. Despite hitting just two of their first 18 3-pointers, the Orange persisted and finally hit another when Carter-Williams delivered from deep for a 54-50 edge. Providence persevered, though. Council answered with a trey of his own, an off-balance, desperation heave as the shot clock expired, whittling the deficit to one with just more than six minutes to play. The Friars, however, had no answer for Syracuse's height advantage down the stretch. Fair followed his own miss with an easy basket and then slammed home a missed layup with 4:40 to go, handing the Orange their biggest lead of the second half to that point at 58-53. After a pair of free throws trimmed the deficit to eight points with under a minute to play, Josh Fortune brought the Friars within four with 34 seconds left, but the Orange maintained their lead from the free-throw line in the waning moments.
- Sports & Recreation