Syracuse rips Providence; tied atop Big East

The Associated Press

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — James Southerland scored 20 points, Michael Carter-Williams had 15 points and 12 assists, and No. 8 Syracuse beat Providence 84-59 on Wednesday night.

Syracuse (22-4, 10-3 Big East) has won 38 straight home games, the longest active streak in Division I, and moved into a tie with Marquette and No. 11 Georgetown atop the conference standings.Providence (14-12, 6-8) had won four straight Big East games, including triumphs over then-No. 17 Cincinnati and then-No. 21 Notre Dame on Saturday.Carter-Williams notched at least 10 assists for the 10th time this season, but only the second time in a league game. He ranked second nationally entering the game, averaging eight assists per game. C.J. Fair had 20 points and 10 rebounds, his ninth double-double of the season, and Brandon Triche had 14 points for Syracuse.Providence guard Vincent Council (424) had 15 points and seven assists to become the Big East's all-time assists leader with 431 — eclipsing former Syracuse star Sherman Douglas' previous record of 426, set from 1985-89.LaDontae Henton had 15 points and 13 rebounds, Kadeem Batts had 13 points, and Big East scoring leader Bryce Cotton had 10, half his season average, on 3-of-10 shooting.Syracuse had an offensive flurry to close the first half, outscoring the Friars 31-4 over the final 10 minutes to take a 43-16 lead at the break. That matched Providence's lowest first-half total of the season.The Orange were 4 of 6 on 3-pointers and shot 63 percent (17 of 27) in the period, notching 12 assists. Carter-Williams assisted on eight baskets, four straight to close the half, and had no turnovers as the Orange scored at will.After Council fed Batts for a jumper to tie the score at 12-all, the Orange took off behind Southerland, who scored nine points in a 4-minute span and finished the half with 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Southerland also hit two 3-pointers and dunked off a pretty feed from Carter-Williams to boost the lead to 36-16 with 2:09 left.Carter-Williams, who started the Syracuse rush with a layup, then fed Fair for a 3 from the wing, threaded a nifty bounce pass through traffic to set up Fair for a slam dunk, and finished the half with an assist on a fast-break lay-in by Triche.Connecticut's guard tandem of Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier handled the Orange in a 66-58 home victory last week, combining for 27 points and 11 assists in the last scheduled meeting between the fierce conference rivals. Cotton and Council figured to offer a stiff test, too, but the Orange were ready this time.The Friars missed all six of their attempts from long range and were 8 of 27 (29.6 percent) from the floor in the first half as Cotton, the Big East's scoring leader at 20.4 points per game, attempted just three shots and scored only two points. Henton's dunk and a fast-break layup by Cotton were the only Providence baskets over the final 10:08 of the period.The Friars shot 23 of 66 (34.8 percent) for the game, just 3 of 18 (16.7 percent) on 3-pointers against the conference's top perimeter defense.The Orange led 47-17 after two free throws by Triche early in the second half. The Friars got as close as 63-45 on Council's steal and layup with 8:50 left.This was the Orange's last regular-season Big East game with Providence. Syracuse is moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference after the season.In the first meeting between the teams this season in early January, Cotton hit five 3-pointers and scored 24 points in a 72-66 home loss, while Council had eight points and eight assists. The Orange trailed 33-30 at halftime, but rallied in the second half as Fair finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds, Rakeem Christmas had a career-high 15 points, and Carter-Williams had 17 points, six assists and six boards.