Long-time conference rivals Syracuse and Georgetown will meet one last time in the Big East Tournament when the fifth- seed Orange battle with the top-seed Hoyas in the semifinals at Madison Square Garden on Friday night.
The winner of this matchup earns the right to play in Saturday's title game against either second-seed Louisville or sixth-seed Notre Dame.
Syracuse limped into the postseason with losses in four of its last five games of the regular season but has posted back-to-back wins against Seton Hall (75-63) and Pittsburgh (62-59) to advance to this round. A win here would give Syracuse its first trip to the conference finals since 2006 when Gerry McNamara carried the then ninth-seed Orange to an improbably conference title.
After a double-bye the Hoyas looked plenty refreshed as they eased by Cincinnati, 62-43, in the quarterfinals on Thursday. The win was the 13th in the last 14 games for Georgetown which came roaring back from a 2-3 start in league action to capture its 10th regular-season crown last Saturday. If Georgetown can get a win Friday it has a chance to capture the most conference tournament crowns in league history as the Big East finishes its final season as it is currently configured.
During the regular season, Georgetown absolutely crushed Syracuse in both regular-season meetings. The most recent outcome was a 61-39 Hoyas' win just last Saturday. However the Orange have history on their side with wins in 48 of 89 total meetings
Pittsburgh hung around all game but in the end the Orange's tough defense and hot shooting from beyond the arc proved decisive. The Orange nailed 12 3- pointers as a team, led by James Southerland, who went 6-of-6 from long range to set a Big East Tournament record for most 3-pointers made without a miss. Syracuse also kept Pittsburgh to just 37.5 percent shooting.
Michael Carter-Williams (12.3 ppg. 7.8 apg, 2.8 spg) really lived up to his Most Improved Player Award against Pittsburgh as the sophomore guard made some big plays down the stretch. The conference's leader in steals scored the Orange's last seven points and collected a crucial theft that really put the game away. Leading scorers C.J. Fair (14.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg) and Brandon Triche (14.0 ppg) also had strong games as they combined to drop in 25 points. Fair has been the most consistent performer for the Orange this season while Triche struggled a bit near the end but has looked back to form in the tourney. The story however has been Southerland (13.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg) who has been phenomenal through the first two rounds, knocking down 12-of-15 shots from 3-point range.
The Hoyas made it a priority to keep the Bearcats out of the paint on Thursday and that strategy worked to perfection. Georgetown allowed the Bears to record just eight baskets from inside the 3-point line and only 14 points in the paint.
Though Big East Player of the Year Otto Porter (16.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg) scored a game-high 18 points in the victory, it was his supporting cast that really stole the show. Markel Starks (12.5 ppg) had 14 points and D'Vauntes Smith- Rivera (9.2 ppg) was electric off the bench with 13 points, while hitting a number of big shots in the second half. Jabril Trawick (5.7 ppg) paced the Hoyas early, scoring all nine of his points in the first 10 minutes. The display put on by the Hoyas on defense was just business as usual as they are allowing just 55.7 points per game on 37.7 percent shooting this season.