- Kieran Darcy, ESPN Staff Writer
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Observations from Syracuse's 75-63 win over Seton Hall at the Big East tournament on Wednesday:
What it means: Syracuse entered this Big East tournament having lost four of five and got a stiff challenge from Seton Hall. But the No. 5-seeded Orange ultimately prevailed over the No. 12-seeded Pirates, thanks in part to a record-tying performance by Michael Carter-Williams (see below).
Syracuse (24-8, 11-7) advances to the quarterfinals as it tries to get back on track and improve its eventual NCAA tournament seeding. Seton Hall (15-18, 3-15) won't be playing in any postseason tournaments beyond this one, but it can feel good about the way it finished, defeating South Florida in the first round and then giving one of the most talented teams in the country all it could handle.
The turning point: Seton Hall came out blistering-hot from beyond the arc, connecting on six of its first seven 3-point attempts. The Pirates jumped out to a 24-14 lead midway through the first half, with Kyle Smyth burying three treys during that stretch. But Syracuse rallied to tie the game at 34 at intermission thanks to James Southerland, who shot 5-for-7 from downtown himself and scored 17 points in the first 20 minutes.
The game was still tied at 46 with less than 13 minutes remaining. Then Syracuse scored seven points in a row -- two jumpers by C.J. Fair, sandwiched around another Southerland 3-pointer -- to put some distance between the teams. A Brandon Triche jumper with 6:49 left pushed the lead to double digits for the first time, 59-48. Injury-depleted Seton Hall, relying almost exclusively on its starting five, simply ran out of gas.
Star watch: Southerland finished with a team-high 20 points for Syracuse, shooting 7-for-11 overall and 6-for-9 from long range. Triche, who had been slumping, chipped in 17 points, and C.J. Fair had 16 points and eight rebounds.
But Carter-Williams is the one who made history. The sophomore point guard tied the Big East tournament record for assists in a game with 14.
Aaron Cosby scored a game-high 22 points for Seton Hall, shooting 6-for-8 from the field, 4-for-6 from 3-point range, and 6-for-7 from the foul line. Eugene Teague scored 13 points, and Fuquan Edwin added 11. The Pirates got zero points from their bench in the game.
Number crunch: For the game, Syracuse shot 56.3 percent from the field (27 for 48) and 60 percent from beyond the arc (9 for 15). The Orange out-rebounded the Pirates 29-18, including 10-4 on the offensive glass.
What's next: Syracuse will play No. 4 seed Pittsburgh on Thursday at approximately 2:30 p.m. in a battle of teams departing for the ACC after this season. The Panthers defeated the Orange 65-55 on Feb. 2 in Pittsburgh.
Seton Hall heads home to South Orange, N.J. and looks forward to next season.