No. 7 Syracuse holds off Providence 72-66

Updated at: 01/09/2013 8:07 PM
By JIMMY GOLEN

(AP) PROVIDENCE, R.I. - C.J. Fair scored 23 with 11 rebounds, and Michael Carter-Williams scored 17 with six assists on Wednesday night as No. 7 Syracuse rallied from a nine-point, first-half deficit to beat Providence 72-66.

Rakeem Christmas scored 15 with eight rebounds for the Orange (15-1, 3-0 Big East), who won their fifth consecutive game since a Dec. 22 loss to Temple at Madison Square Garden that is their only defeat of the season.

Bryce Cotton scored 24 for Providence (8-7, 0-3), which lost its fifth in a row.

Syracuse made just 3 of 21 attempts from 3-point range, while Providence was 9 of 18.

Syracuse led was 51-50 with under 7 minutes left when Carter-Williams, with the shot clock winding down, made a 3-pointer from the top of the key. But on Providence’s next possession Vincent Council, heavily guarded, fired up an off-balance 3 to avoid a shot clock violation and it went in, too.

Syracuse then held Providence without a basket over the next five minutes before Josh Fortune hit a 3-pointer with 68 seconds left to make it 64-58. The Friars forced a five-second call on the ensuing inbounds pass, then worked it around the perimeter to Fortune for another 3, but that one rimmed out.

After trading free throws, Providence stole the ball in transition and Fortune banked in another 3 to make it 66-62. But they couldn’t get back within four, as Fair went 6 for 6 from the line down the stretch and the Orange were 10 for 10 in the final 81 seconds.

Cotton did not start on Saturday against DePaul after having his knee drained the day before. He came off the bench and scored 16 points in the final 3 1/2 minutes against the Blue Demons, then came out quickly on Wednesday with 17 points in the first half.

Providence entered the game as the last-place team in the Big East, losers of their last four games _ including a Dec. 28 loss to Brown. But the Friars opened a nine-point lead in the first half, making six of 10 from 3-point range in the half, with Cotton sinking his first five attempts.

Cotton sank four 3-pointers during a 19-5 run that turned a six-point deficit into a 29-21 lead with 6:48 left in the half. It was 33-24 when Syracuse scored the final six points of the half, including a 3-pointer by Carter-Williams that was the only 3 the Orange made in the half (1 for 11).

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