Eric Devendorf had a simple explanation for why he and his Syracuse teammates turned things around in a technical-filled second half against Seton Hall
"It's our home floor, really, and when somebody knocks down our teammate or gets in the face of our teammate, we're going to be there to help him and that was the case tonight," he said. "So I guess they made a mistake."
It looks like they did.
Devendorf scored all 19 of his points in the second half of the 18th-ranked Orange's 89-74 victory over Seton Hall on Wednesday night in the second round of the Big East tournament.
He scored 16 points after two sets of double technical fouls were called, one on him when he and Eugene Harvey of Seton Hall made contact with each other after an intentional foul for excessive contact was called on Brandon Walters of the Pirates.
Devendorf hit a 3 right after he was assessed the technical and that started a 17-3 run that gave Syracuse control for good.
"It felt good," he said of the second of his five 3s. "It was a 'close your yap,' something like that. It felt good to get going in the second half."
Jonny Flynn had 19 points and 11 assists for the sixth-seeded Orange (24-8), who will face third-seeded and third-ranked Connecticut in the quarterfinals on Thursday night.
Jeremy Hazell had 27 points for the 11th-seeded Pirates (17-15), who advanced to the second round with a 68-54 victory over South Florida. Seton Hall was looking to win two games in the Big East tournament for the first time since 2001.
"There were some stretches in the game where the game got away from us," Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez said. "They can hurt you a lot of ways. They are murder in transition and Jonny Flynn is almost unguardable."
Seton Hall managed to be within 36-31 at halftime despite shooting 2-for-13 on 3-pointers and the Pirates hit their first two 3s of the second half to go up 37-36.
A layup by Arinze Onuaku gave Syracuse a 46-44 lead with 16:29 left and that's when the game started to take on the feel of a Big East game from two decades ago when the conference was known for hard play.
John Garcia of Seton Hall and Onuaku were both assessed technical fouls with 16:07 left when they got into each other's faces after a ball went out of bounds.
On the next possession, Walters fouled Christian Ongenaet hard under the basket as he was taking a layup.
Players from both teams got into a mix in the lane and Harvey came up into Devendorf, who pushed his body back at him. The officials ran in to break up the scrum as the crowd at Madison Square Garden roared.
Ongenaet made one of the free throws and Devendorf hit a 3 on the ensuing possession and that started a 17-3 run that put the Orange up 64-47 with 11:21 to go on a 3 by Devendorf.
Syracuse scored on eight of nine possessions at one point, including four 3s, two each by Devendorf and Andy Rautins. Flynn found Devendorf in the corner with a no-look bounce pass on the break and he hit a 3 that made it 74-55 with 9:09 to play.
"That's the kind of player Eric is," Flynn said. "He's an emotional player and we knew we can ride his back for the last such and such minutes of the game. He really carried us."
Onuaku had 15 points for Syracuse, while Ongenaet had 12 and Rautins 11.
Devendorf was 5-for-8 on 3s as the Orange went 9-of-18 for the game from behind the arc.
"Seton Hall is a difficult team to play against. They come at you hard. They were very patient. They got back in the zone," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "The second half we were better moving the ball. Jonny did a great job of finding people."
Syracuse tied a tournament record with 30 assists, matching Georgetown against Connecticut in 1985. The Orange had the 30 assists on 37 field goals.
Robert Mitchell had 15 points and 12 rebounds for Seton Hall, which finished 9-for-28 on 3s with Hazell going 5-for-15.
"It was just a real physical game," Seton Hall guard Paul Gause said. "We know their players. They know us. There's no bad blood between us at all. ... It's who responded and they responded a little bit better than we did."
Syracuse was just 6-for-20 from the free throw line with Onuaku making one of five.
Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez missed the teams' regular season meeting, a 100-76 Syracuse victory at home, as he served a one-game suspension from the Big East over an incident with Rutgers coach Fred Hill in the final game of the 2007-08 regular season.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.