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Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Syracuse 87, Providence 73

By Andy Katz


PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A quick look at No. 1 Syracuse’s 87-73 victory over Providence at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center:

Postgame impression: Syracuse continues to grow into a formidable force with each game. Sure, you can question the level of its competition so far in the Big East, with a home game against Seton Hall and road games at DePaul and Providence. But the Orange answer every challenge. Syracuse will naturally be pushed on the road and go through some defensive lapses. But this team can respond in waves. The depth of this group is extremely impressive.

Michael Carter-Williams, who would be a factor on a lot of teams in the Big East, came off the bench for five key points. And the contributions from Dion Waiters, C.J. Fair and James Southerland continue to be a huge plus. Syracuse’s bench outscored Providence's 35-1. Granted, the Friars are thin and only played six players, but the options are numerous for the Orange.

Not that the starters weren't solid as well. Scoop Jardine had a double-double with 10 points and 11 assists and Brandon Triche added 16 points, along with a trio of 3s early in the second half that really shifted momentum to SU's favor.

Adjustment: The Cuse made a number of adjustments in the second half. Syracuse let Providence, a 21.4 percent 3-point shooting team in the previous two Big East games, make 4 of 8 3s in the first half. The Friars made only a pair in the second half, though, and never cut the lead below six. Syracuse flustered PC in the second half, and snuffed out runs by using its length and tip ability out of the zone.

Composure: Syracuse went into a hostile environment in front of a packed Dunk and didn’t wince once. The Friar fans were hoping for a repeat of the last time a No. 1 team came to Providence, when Pittsburgh was taken down in 2009. There were a few fleeting moments in the first half, but the Orange never were in serious jeopardy of folding.

What's next: Syracuse will step it up a bit by hosting Marquette on Saturday afternoon. But the Golden Eagles have lost three of their past four after blowing a huge lead at Georgetown Wednesday night. A road trip to struggling Villanova follows that game, with Providence and Pitt coming to the Carrier Dome the following week. What does that mean? The Orange may not get seriously challenged until a road game at Cincinnati on Jan. 23. The schedule plays well for SU, with the toughest games on the road not until mid-February at Louisville and later at Connecticut.