Neither Syracuse Orange nor Pittsburgh wanted to see its Big East reign end in the quarterfinals of their last conference tournament.
James Southerland and Michael Carter-Williams kept Syracuse’s run at one more title going as the 19th-ranked Orange beat No. 17 Pittsburgh 62-59 at Madison Square Garden.
Both schools are leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference next season. They didn’t disenchant the sellout crowd, providing a last great game before they head south.
”We know that this means a lot to us, as a basketball team and as a program,” Syracuse’s Brandon Triche asserted. ”This can very much jump-start us to the (NCAA) tournament. So we all know how important this Big East tournament is.”
The 5th-seeded Orange (25-8) advanced to the semifinals against top-seeded Georgetown, which is among the 7 Catholic schools that have left their football counterparts behind in an effort to have a basketball-centric conference.
”The doubleheader that’s going to be here tomorrow night will be a great basketball night, I think,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said.
”It’s a good way for this league to go out. We got to the semis in this tournament a lot, I think over 20 times, and it is good to be able to do that as it means you played pretty good, and that’s what we’re trying to do, play good and get ready for, sadly, the only thing that matters.”
This will be the 14th time the schools have met in the Big East tournament and the Georgetown Hoyas hold the series lead at 7-6.
”Georgetown is a team that’s going to play tough and physical,” Southerland said. ”So if you keep moving, getting people open and setting screens, we’ll be fine.”
Southerland had a 2nd straight great effort from 3-point range and Carter-Williams scored Syracuse’s last 7 points against Pittsburgh in a game in which the final 1:15 was a good way for the programs to play a last time in the Big East.
Southerland had 20 points as he did in the 2nd-round win over Seton Hall and again nearly all the points came from beyond the 3-point arc. The senior forward was 6 for 6 on 3s against Pittsburgh – the Big East tournament record for 3s without a miss – a day after going 6 for 9 from beyond the arc against Seton Hall Pirates.
”It’s a great feeling,” Southerland, who shot 38.7% on 3s coming in, said of his shooting streak. ”I did not realize I was 6 for 6 till I looked down at the paper now. I don’t believe about it. I just go out and play and make sure I make every shot.”
Carter-Williams had 11 points and 7 assists, taking over for the Orange over the closing minutes. He capped his personal closing run with 4 free throws – all on 1-and-1s – in the last 28 seconds. The last 2 free throws that made it 62-57 came after he stole the ball from Pittsburgh’s James Robinson near midcourt with 10 seconds left. Baseball betting lines
Pittsburgh Panthers had won 9 of the last 11 meetings with Syracuse.