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NCAA Basketball Big East BasketballSyracuse Orange

Syracuse Orange Players Have Career Nights Defeating Arkansas

Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE

Michael Carter-Williams and James Southerland had career nights as the Syracuse Orange defeated the Arizona Razorbacks 91-82 in the Big East/SEC Challenge.

Southerland scored a career high 35 points on 12 for 17 shooting from the field. He shot 9 for 13 from the three point line tying the Syracuse record for most three pointers in a game. The senior now shares the record with former Orange greats Leo Rautins and Gerry NcNamara.

Southerland tied his previous career high of 22 points, which he set nine days ago, after putting on a marvelous shooting performance with six three-pointers by halftime. After tonight’s game the 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 19.2 points with 4.4 rebounds and doing it all coming off the bench.

The ability for Orange coach Jim Boeheim to bring Southerland off the bench is helped by the impressive play continuing to be displayed by sophomore Carter-Williams.

The 6-foot-6 point guard did it all on the court against the Razorbacks and barely missed out on a triple-double finishing with 17 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, and three steals. It was however, the first double-double of Carter-Williams career and it likely won’t be the last as he’s already put up double-figure assists twice this season.

Carter-Williams scored 10 of his 17 points in the final nine and a half minutes of action by routinely breaking down his defender and using his length to overwhelm the defense. His wingspan makes it impossible for smaller point guards to bother the shot once he’s close to the net as his release point is at rim level. Once he’s in the paint, he’s too long and quick to be contained by defenders at his position. If  he can develop a consistent jump shot, he’ll quickly become an offensive scoring force.

Until then teammates can continue to enjoy getting involved thanks to Carter-Williams’ near double-double average of assists with 11.6 points, 9.2 assists and 6.4 rebounds. In fact, Carter-Williams is responsible for 59% of the Orange’s assists through the first five games of the season. With the team combining for 78 assists in total with 46 of them belonging to Carter-Williams.

He’s also only committed an incredible 17 turnovers in those five games, meaning he’s averaging 2.7 assists for every turnover. Not bad for a player that struggled to average more than five minutes a game through the last two months of last season.

His play extended beyond his offensive abilities with his hustle on both ends of the floor standing out as Arkansas hung around late.

Syracuse continued to let the Razorbacks stay close due to the Orange committing 20 turnovers in the game. Every time the Orange looked like they’d pull away they’d give the ball right back to Arkansas. Syracuse would score, make a stop then on the next offensive possession either travel, commit an offensive foul or simply sail the ball out of bounds.

Late in the game, Rakeem Christmas collided with Carter-Williams on an offensive rebound attempt as Christmas stumbled and landed on top of Carter-Williams on the floor. The Razorbacks quickly went the other way for a 5 on 3 break with the two Syracuse players still on the floor. Christmas hustled back and stole the ball as Arkansas poorly threw it away. With Carter-Williams hustling back, he quickly changed directions as the last man to get back on defense turned into the first man up the court on offense.

Unfortunately, Christmas’ pass attempt to lead Carter-Williams up the floor was too much in front of him and the ball headed out of bounds.  Carter-Williams hustled after the ball and managed to it throw back into play before it left the court with his momentum carrying him into the eighth row of the stands. This once again put Syracuse at a disadvantage as the Razorbacks retrieved the ball saved by Carter-Williams and took it the other way for a 5-4 break which they once again failed to capitalize on after the sophomore managed to get back into position.

A couple possessions later Carter-Williams once again showed his hustle as the last man back he jumped in front of an oncoming Arkansas player which lead to a charging foul. It was a gutsy play with less than five minutes remaining and the game still in single digits as Carter-Williams was playing with four fouls at the time.

It was the type of hustle play a defensive coach like Boeheim loves to see from his players.