Top-ranked Syracuse holds off Providence 87-73
PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Top-ranked Syracuse was struggling to put Providence away. Then an assistant coach pulled Brandon Triche aside at halftime and told him to be more aggressive.
The Syracuse guard hit three consecutive 3-pointers early in the second half and the Orange went on to beat Providence 87-73 on Wednesday night. Triche finished with 16 points, including going 4 of 5 from 3-point range, and Syracuse shot 73 percent from the field in the second half.
"It was the best shooting night we've had all year. If it hadn't happened that way, the game could have easily gone the other way," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "We've stopped everybody, pretty much, this year. We couldn't stop them. We just outscored them. You know, Brandon just got going and he made some tough shots."
Scoop Jardine added 10 points and 11 assists for Syracuse.
It is the second consecutive season the Orange (16-0, 3-0 Big East) have opened with 16 straight wins. Last season's team went 18-0 before its first loss.
Gerard Coleman and Vincent Council each scored 17 points for Providence, and LaDontae Henton had 11 points and 13 rebounds. The Friars (11-5, 0-3) were playing the No. 1 team in the nation for the first time since beating top-ranked Pittsburgh 81-73 in Providence in 2009.
"That was a good basketball game. I'm proud of my team," said Providence coach Ed Cooley, who is in his first year after taking over a team that went 4-14 in the Big East last season. "I'm not in it to be congratulated on a loss. We want to win. This process takes time. At the end of the day it's about winning the basketball game."
Providence took its last lead when Council was fouled making a 3-pointer with 1:46 left in the first half. He made the free throw to give the Friars a 34-33 lead, but Triche hit a 3-pointer to give Syracuse a 36-34 halftime lead.
It was 40-38 with 2 minutes gone in the second half when the Orange scored nine straight points, capped by Triche's 3-pointer. After Brice Kofane made one of two free throws, Triche hit another 3-pointer and then added another that made it 55-41 with 15 minutes left.
"Just trying to be aggressive," Triche said. "After I hit a few shots, plays were being called for me."
Henton hit a 3-pointer to make it 62-55 with just under 10 minutes left, but he missed two free throws that could have cut it to five points after being fouled on a fourth-chance put-back. Triche drove for a layup, then Council was called for a charge; James Southerland made a 3-pointer to give Syracuse a 67-55 lead.
Providence made it a six-point game, 70-64 with 5:33 left, but Dion Waiters made a scoop shot and then Bryce Cotton was called for a charge. Waiters hit a 3-pointer to make it an 11-point game.
"It was unfortunate that when he had the game close, we missed a free throw, a couple of offensive fouls," Cooley said. "It goes from six to 11 like that."
Providence honored Dave Gavitt during its first conference home game since the death of the former Friars coach, Big East commissioner and Naismith Hall of Famer. There was a moment of silence for Gavitt, who died on Sept. 16, and a halftime video tribute.
Earlier in the day, the city renamed a street near the arena "Dave Gavitt Way." The Friars had previously named their court for him, and they are wearing "DG" patches on their jerseys this season.
"I think there would be no Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun, no Syracuse winning a national championship ... Dave Gavitt is the only guy that could have put together the Big East," Boeheim said. "If we could have just stayed basketball, we could have had the greatest basketball league ever, forever. But unfortunately it doesn't work that way.
"He made us all, and he did it in a way that never hurt anybody's feelings ever, and was respected by every side. He's the greatest man I've ever known, and we owe everything to him. Everything."