SYRACUSE – Senior James Southerland led #19/20 Syracuse to a 75-63 win against Seton Hall with a team-high 20 points, including six three-pointers in the Orange victory in the first game of the BIG EAST Tournament in Madison Square Garden.
After a 34-34 tie- game at the intermission, the Orange took its first lead of the game after a slam from sophomore Rakeem Christmas lifted SU ahead by two point at 36-34. From there, Syracuse took control and did not relinquish the lead the for the remainder of the game.
Junior C.J. Fair followed Christmas with a three-pointer, to build a five- point advantage at 39-34. Reeling, Seton Hall netted two more 3 to knot the score again at 42-42, but Fair put Syracuse back on top with a pair of free throws.
Finding rhythm, the Orange began pulling away with 12:45 left in the game as two jumpers from Fair and a three-pointer from Southerland moved SU ahead by as much as seven points at 53-46.
Syracuse couldn't shake the Pirates, as a bucket and two free throws from Seton Hall's Aaron Cosby tied the score at 46-46. SU responded with a 17-2 run to stretch the lead to 17 points, led by seven points from Triche and six points from Fair to set the score at 65-48 with less than five minutes remaining in the game.
The Orange got out to a slow start as the Pirates opened the first six minutes of play with a 16-6 run, interrupted by two three-pointers from senior Brandon Triche and Southerland. Rebounding, SU scored eight unanswered points, led by back-to-back three balls from Southerland to come within two-points of the lead at 16-14 with 12:06 remaining in the opening frame.
Seton Hall responded with two more three balls and a jumper to pull ahead by as much as 10 points at 24-14. Trailing by seven at 32-25, Syracuse entered the intermission tied 34-34, after concluding the half on an 11-4 run that lasted the final five minutes.
Southerland helped the Orange climb out of a 10-point deficit with five three-pointers during the first half.