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Syracuse claws out last Big East win over Pitt

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- It was an old-fashioned physical battle, the type of game that epitomized the rich history of the Big East Conference.

And when it ended, Syracuse was left standing with a 62-57 battle-scarred win over Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals of the tournament on Thursday before an announced sellout crowd of 19,763

The win sets up a marquee matchup of No. 19 Syracuse and No. 5 Georgetown in the semifinals Friday.

Syracuse (25-8) received 20 points from forward James Southerland, 13 points from C.J. Fair and 12 from Brandon Triche. No. 18 Pittsburgh (24-8) was led by Lamar Patterson's 14 points.

Southerland set a Big East Tournament record for most 3-pointers made in a game without a miss, connecting on 6 of his 6 long distance shots.

"I didn't realize I was 6 for 6 until I looked down at the paper now," admitted Southerland in the post-game press conference. "I don't think about it. I just gout and play and make sure I make every shot."

Syracuse and Pittsburgh will take their rivalry to the ACC next season as part of an exodus from the 34-year-old conference.

Every loose ball was seemingly contested and open looks were as rare as a Jim Boeheim smile. The refs called 32 personal fouls.

Pittsburgh center Steven Adams had the scars to prove it -- two huge scratches on his right shoulder.

Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams hit four clutch free throws in the final 30 seconds, including both ends of a one-and-one with 10 seconds left to seal the win for the Orange.

For the second day in a row, Southerland scored 17 first-half points. In two tournament games, the 6-8 Southerland made 12 of his 15 3-point attempts.

He gave the Orange a 55-47 cushion with a 3-pointer with 5:33 to go, but Pittsburgh would cut that lead to one at 58-57 with 32 seconds left on a Talib Zanna layup. Zanna was fouled but failed to tie the score when his free throw attempt rimmed out.

Carter-Williams grabbed the rebound and was promptly fouled. The sophomore guard sank both shots to give the Orange a 60-57 lead. On Pitt's next possession Carter-Williams stepped in front of a James Patterson pass near mid court and was fouled again. He hit both shots to make it 62-57 with 10 seconds left.

Carter-Williams was 6 of 8 from the line.

"It was a game that pretty much every one of ours has been like against Syracuse over the years," said Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon. "We've been here 14 years. This game isn't too much different.

"I think this is why it's been the best league and games like this typify that. In our league, teams get down and keep battling."

The first-half lead changed nine teams, with Syracuse getting some breathing room when Fair drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Orange a 40-27 cushion.

Pittsburgh played catch-up after going ahead 14-12 with 9:58 left in the half. Syracuse erased the deficit by going on a 15-3 run to grab a 27-15 lead at the 4:58 mark. Triche led the charge with seven points and Southerland added six points on two of his five 3-pointers of the half.

Southerland was 5 of 5 from beyond the arc in the first half.

"I thought offensively that first half we played as well as we played all year," Boeheim said. "Pittsburgh is a tremendous defensive team. We just had great ball movement and James got good looks and he made them."

NOTES: Syracuse has posted winning Big East records in 32 of 34 seasons. ... The victory gives the Orange the most wins (77) in Big East Tournament history.
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