‘Cuse Matches Best Start Ever

Syracuse and Providence played an entertaining game on January 4, but Saturday's rematch was about as one-sided as can be. The top team in the land struggled early before blowing the game wide open just before the break on the way to a 78-55 demolition.

For a minute on Saturday, No. 1 team in the country looked to be on the way to a letdown.

In the next, it was a rout resulting in a tie for the best start in school history for a storied program.

Syracuse (19-0, 6-0) and Providence (12-7, 1-5) played a game similar to the January 4 meeting between the two in Rhode Island. This time, however, SU's game-changing run came midway through the first half.

The Friars utilized a time-consuming offense to try and slow the game down without leading scorer Vincent Council – who was a late scratch (coach's decision). It worked through the first 14 minutes of the game, as they hung with the top team in the land.

Providence made it a game after LaDontae Henton hit a pair of free throws to pull within one point of SU at 17-16.

And then Syracuse did what Syracuse always seems to do.

Behind pressure defense atop the 2-3 zone as well as a press, the Orange forced 16 first-half turnovers. The blunders eventually led to a slew of points for Syracuse, on the way to closing out the half on a 21-5 run.

"It got us going a little bit," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "It got our movement going a little bit, too."

During the spurt, Dion Waiters and Scoop Jardine combined for 15 points seemingly fueled by each other's defense.

Jardine would go on to score 10 points in addition to assisting on nine baskets without commiting a single turnover on the night.

"I thought he was exceptional," Boeheim said of Jardine's night. "Really exceptional tonight."

The coach's feeling were echoed by the usual fire-starter for the Orange.

"He's making everybody better," said Waiters of Jardine. "He went out there and shared the sugar – that's what I call it – so he did a great job tonight."

The second half looked a lot like the end of the first initially, as SU scored the first seven points of the period.

It would only get worse for the Friars.

After the 7-0 run, Syracuse pulled away more and more as time progressed. The Orange stretched the lead to 30 in the second half at one point thanks to a two-handed slam by Waiters one possession after he got the crowd on its feet after converting a tough layup plus the foul.

Boeheim made a full-switch at the 14:23 mark of the half, sitting all five starters for Waiters and company. Much has been made of the depth of Syracuse, and it proved its worth once again - this time in literal fashion.

"It means the starters can get sufficient rest when needed," senior Kris Joseph, who led the team with 13 points, said of the substitutions. "When you can make hockey subs like that – it's a great thing."

The lead was maintained for the rest of the night and the deficit for PC would not be less than 16 over the final minutes.


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