Syracuse’s ascension to the top spot in the national polls on Monday was met with skepticism about if they were truly the best team in the nation, in part because they had not played a road game. The Orange emphatically answered any questions on Saturday by running their season record to 11-0 by throttling North Carolina State on the road, 88-72. SU forced 19 turnovers by the Wolfpack (6-4) and got 46 points from their bench in the game, dominating both statistics.
N.C. State opened the game scorching hot, using an early 10-2 run to hold a 12-4 lead just over three minutes into the game. Syracuse stayed between three and eight points behind until under eight minutes to play in the half when they launched an all-out assault on their hosts. The Orange trailed 29-23, but then scored then next 23 points, making 9-of-14 shots from the field, including five triples, and forced the Wolfpack into six errant shots and seven turnovers. The hosts responded with a pair of baskets around an SU free throw to get within 47-33 at halftime.
The second half, however, featured another slow start for Syracuse. N.C. State started the session with a 17-3 run to knot the game at 50 as the Orange were passive on defense and content to fling three-point shots near, but not into, the basket. The two squads traded markers for the next couple minutes, but SU never fell behind. Instead, they stepped on the gas late. Syracuse closed an 11-2 burst with eight straight points to take a 74-63 lead with just under seven minutes on the clock. A Wolfpack three chipped the margin into single digits, but the Orange scored six straight to trigger a 12-2 run to ice the game at 86-68 with just under a minute left.
As he has already done a couple times this season, Dion Waiters set a personal high water mark in scoring for a game, this time netting 22 points, including 15 in the first half. Kris Joseph added a season-high 21 points. With the game in doubt in the second half, Scoop Jardine rose to the occasion, dropping in 14 of his 16 points after the break. C.J. Fair and James Southerland also contributed to the strong night from the bench, each scoring 11 points. Joseph, Southerland, and Waiters each hit a trio of treys as Syracuse had 11 three-pointers as a team.