Syracuse Runs Away From Friars

Before a rowdy sellout crowd of 12,410, the Friars gave the number four rated Syracuse Orangemen a run for a half behind torrid shooting before plummeting back to earth in a second half that has become far too repetitive. The result? A 99-85 loss that drops PC to 12-15 overall and 4-11 in the Big East.

For Providence, the losing skid has now reached seven in a row and nine of the last ten. For Syracuse, likely heading for a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament, the win improves the record to 26-2 and 13-2 in the league.

The Friars just do not have the talent or size to stay with elite teams like Syracuse, but for a half, Friar fans could dream of the signature upset. The Orange actually broke out of the gate early behind a series o lay-ups by Rick Jackson and Arinze Oniaku and led 24-11 after six minutes. Syracuse looked capable of turning the game into an early rout as the Friars struggled to stop penetration and wide-open lay-ups and jumpers. A three pointer by Sharaud Curry (11 points) snapped the Cuse run but Wes Johnson answered with a three and PC began its run with a Brian McKenzie three.

The Friars are at their best when they can run and when their shots are falling and the final ten minutes of the half featured a 41-20 PC run. Lay-ups by Jamine Peterson and Marshon Brooks and threes by Vincent Council and Peterson pulled PC within 34-31 and stunned the Cuse. Big Ray Hall had checked in to combat the size and bulk advantage of Jackson and Oniaku and he scored on a lay-up. PC grabbed a 36-35 lead on a second McKenzie three, and then Brooks dunked off an in-bounds steal, and McKenzie bombed home another three for a 41-38 lead.

The Friars opened a 47-40 advantage on two free throws and two high-flying dunks by Peterson, and Curry and Jackson traded lay-ups before Brooks banged home a three for a 52-44 lead with just :34 left. A rocking Dunk saw the Orange run the clock down and then Andy Rautins buried a 35-footer to narrow the gap to five at the half. And that's when the worst possible thing this season for Providence College happened.

Half time.

Half time has proven to be a true momentum killer for Providence all season. In the first half, PC had nailed 10-19 threes and 59% of their shots overall against Syracuse's tough 2-3 zone. No team had shredded the Cuse zone all season as PC had. But ominously, Syracuse had hung close. Even Keno Davis admitted, "We shot the ball unbelievably well in the first half, but Syracuse hung with us. It's not like we were pulling away."

The reason for that was the inability to stop Syracuse defensively. Both teams had limited fouls and turnovers, Syracuse had shot 50% and had out-rebounded PC 19-15. Along with that came the feeling that if the Friars cooled off at all in the second half, they'd be in trouble. And what team can continue to shoot that well against a physically superior opponent for forty minutes?

Greedy Peterson opened the second half with a three for a 55-47 lead, but PC's inability to stop Syracuse kicked in, as did the cooling shooting and the deteriorating shot selection. Syracuse pounded the ball inside to Jackson and Oniaku and quickly caught and passed the fumbling Friars. A 14-0 run gave the Cuse a 61-55 lead.

Over the first nine and a half minutes of the second half Syracuse outscored the Friars 26-5 to open a 73-57 advantage. During that span, PC suffered two turnovers by Council, two by Peterson, two by Brooks and one each by Curry and Duke Mondy, along with two missed shots by McKenzie, two by Council and one each by Peterson and Brooks. To their credit, PC fought back and narrowed the gap to 77-66 on a three by Peterson and 85-75 on a jumper by Brooks, but Rautins immediately answered with a three, Scoop Jardine and Jackson followed with lay-ups and Rautins buried another three for a 96-77 lead, and the crowd headed for the exits.

Offenses always look good when shots are falling, and for a half PC was scoring easily as everything they tossed up at the basket dropped. Jim Boeheim said, "I was never so disgusted with our defense as I was tonight in the first half. But they made some tough shots too." Still, PC's points came as a result of hot shooting and the ability of Hall to flash to the middle of Syracuse's zone and find teammates for easy baskets.

Ultimately a team has to be able to stop people to win, and PC's defense has been porous all season. Providence simply is not guarding people. The Friars rank 330th out of 334 D1 teams in defense and 284th in defensive field goal percentage. Davis has said a number of times, "Don't judge us by how many points we give up. Because of the way we play, we're going to have a lot of possessions in a game and give up points. Judge us by defensive field goal percentage." Syracuse shot 56% for the game, outscoring PC 56-34 in the paint, and 10-21 from three. Obviously, 284th in the nation in defensive field goal percentage is not getting it done.

For Syracuse, Andy Rautins and Rick Jackson had career highs with 28 points apiece (Rautins hit 8-12 threes, while Jackson had 13 lay-ups or close-in shots), while Oniaku chipped in 12 points. For PC, Peterson and Brooks each scored 23 points, but Greedy had just 6 boards as the Friars were out-rebounded 39-29, including 17-10 off the offensive glass.

One final note about the defense. The school record for highest average points allowed in a season is 82.5 in 1987-88. Right now, the 2009-10 Friars are allowing 80.5 a game, second worst ever… and rising. The Friars return to action on Saturday for a 7:00 tip-off at South Florida and its star scorer Dominique Jones.

Scout Friars Top Stories