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Seniors lift Syracuse past DePaul

 
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP)

James Southerland and Brandon Triche helped Syracuse get back on track, and that made Senior Night something they won't soon forget.

The seniors combined for 37 points in the final home game of their careers, and the 17th-ranked Orange beat DePaul 78-57 on Wednesday night to snap a three-game losing streak.

It certainly wasn't a masterpiece as Syracuse was 2 for 18 from 3-point range as the Orange's shooting woes continued in the last Big East game played at the Carrier Dome since Syracuse is leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.

''It was good,'' said Southerland, who grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds for his first-ever double-double in his first start of the season. ''I felt great being out there, especially in the last Big East game. Brandon and I did a great job of leading the team.''

Syracuse (23-7, 11-6 Big East) broke a rare two-game losing streak in the Carrier Dome. No. 5 Georgetown started it 11 days ago with a 57-46 win that stopped the Orange's 38-game winning streak, the longest in the nation at the time.

''When you lose three games in a row, you're going to be thinking about that no matter what you try to do,'' Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. ''What's been consistent is that our defense has been good through this.''

It was on this night, too.

The Orange forced 18 turnovers, registered 12 blocks and had nine steals. Syracuse outrebounded DePaul 47-38, 22-15 on the offensive glass, in getting 21 second-chance points. Syracuse shot 26 of 67 (38.8 percent), missing all nine 3's attempted in the second half.

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Southerland struggled, going 5 of 19 from the field and 1 of 10 on 3-pointers. But he made all 11 of his free throws for 22 points in just his third career start and repeatedly crashed the boards in a spirited performance.

''If we turn our offense around, we'll probably win by 20 points,'' Triche said. ''But if it's this bad, we'll be in every game and be ahead by only a few points. That tells you what type of team we have. Defensively, we're very good. We make sure we're in every game. Offensively, it might just click like that. We're all working on it.''

The Orange's three-game slide came in a span of a week against Georgetown, No. 8 Louisville and No. 15 Marquette. The setbacks sent Syracuse plummeting out of the top 10 and out of contention for its second straight Big East regular-season title. The Orange's only remaining regular season game is at Georgetown on Saturday.

Cleveland Melvin had 15 points and eight rebounds for DePaul (11-19, 2-15), which lost its fifth straight and moved into a tie for last in the conference with South Florida.

''We've just got to move on. This is a tough loss,'' Melvin said. ''We've just got to get ready for Senior Night and hopefully get the win for our seniors.''

Triche finished with 15 points and five rebounds, and C.J. Fair had 16 points, his 20th game in double figures this season. Michael Carter-Williams had 10 points, five assists and four steals.

Brandon Young had 12 points for the Blue Demons, Moses Morgan added nine, and Jamee Crockett eight on 2-of-10 shooting.

Syracuse outscored DePaul 40-26 in the paint, 17-6 off turnovers, and went 24 of 31 on free throws while the Blue Demons struggled from the line. DePaul was 12 of 24 on free throws and hurt its chances of staying close with a 9-for-20 performance in the second half.

The Orange faced zone defenses during their skid and struggled shooting, and DePaul went to a zone in the second half, hoping to keep those shooting woes going.

''They struggled against it,'' DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. ''Then, lo and behold, we get the ball to our best players and we can't convert free throws. That kept us from keeping it close. What we wanted to do was be close coming down the stretch and be able to pack the zone. We're chasing now, and that's a different deal.''

The Orange took control with a 20-3 first-half spurt, led 35-26 at halftime, and never let the Blue Demons get closer than six points in the second half.

Fair converted a lob from Carter-Williams and Triche fed Southerland and Rakeem Christmas for two more dunks, all in a span of less than a minute, to boost the lead to 59-42 with 6:56 to play.

DePaul entered the game shooting 30.1 percent from 3-point range and Syracuse was tied with Providence for the stingiest defense against the long-range game in the Big East, allowing 28.9 percent.

That didn't deter the Blue Demons, who gained an early lead by victimizing the Orange's perimeter defense three times in a span of just over 2 minutes. Crockett started the long-range surge with a 3 and finished it with another after Morgan had hit from behind the arc.

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Young's layup gave DePaul a 21-15 lead at 12:26 and then the Orange stormed back with their big run that included three three-point plays as their defense went to work.

Fair's two-handed slam dunk tied it at 24-all, and Southerland and Triche followed with three-point plays. Fair's 3 from the left corner ended the run and gave Syracuse an 11-point lead.

''This was Senior Night, the last home game,'' Fair said. ''You want to go out with a win for our seniors and just get our mojo back going into Georgetown. This is where you make a run. You don't wait until the tournament to make a run. You've got to start before to get a rhythm.''

The Blue Demons missed seven shots, committed four turnovers that included a shot-clock violation, committed two fouls and had two shots blocked during the Syracuse rally as the Orange built their nine-point halftime lead.

Syracuse senior walk-ons Griffin Hoffmann and Matt Lyde-Cajuste were also honored in a pregame ceremony.

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