Syracuse’s undefeated season seems to exhibit a trend where the top-ranked Orange explode for a dominant stretch in games, then coast on that superior play to the victory. That was the case again on Saturday afternoon, as SU stretched their record to 17-0 overall and 4-0 in Big East play by turning in 11 minutes of complete control in the first half, then holding off a strong Marquette charge for a 73-66 win at the Carrier Dome. The Orange were propelled by a strong defensive effort early, as the #20 Golden Eagles (12-4, 1-2) made only 6-of-20 shots from the field in the first half. Syracuse survived despite a lousy performance in the second half where they shot 36 percent from the field and gave up 47 points.
The Orange never trailed in the game, scoring the first five points of the action, then stretching their lead to 12-5 less than five minutes into the game. Marquette responded by scoring the next six points of the game to get within a point. SU apparently decided that was enough, hammering the Golden Eagles with a 23-1 run that had the Orange holding a 35-12 lead with under three minutes remaining in the half. Syracuse forced the visitors into ten missed field goals and seven turnovers and closed that span with 17 straight points. Marquette shook off their doldrums by scoring seven straight points, but an SU jumper gave the hosts a 37-19 lead at the break.
The Golden Eagles were soaring at the start of the second half, starting the session with a 10-2 run to get within 39-29 less then three minutes into the action. SU righted their ship, holding their foes at least eight points away until the midpoint of the session. Six straight Marquette points shaved the Orange lead down to 51-48 with over nine minutes left. Syracuse responded with four free throws to regain a seven-point lead, then stretched it to 57-49 with under seven minutes on the clock. The Golden Eagles would not roll over, though, using an 8-2 run to get within 59-57 with 5:15 to play. SU responded to the threat, scoring the next seven points, highlighted by a sequence where Dion Waiters blocked a three-point shot, chased down the loose ball, and made a contested lay-up to the delight of the Carrier Dome crowd. Some shaky free throw shooting threatened SU in the closing seconds, but they never allowed the lead to get closer then five points for the final 2:45 of the contest.
Four SU players in double figures were led by Kris Joseph, who scored 11 points in the second half and 17 overall, mostly by connecting on all four of his three-point attempts. Brandon Triche also hit four threes en route to 16 points in the game, including 13 before the break. C. J. Fair and Dion Waiters provided the punch off the bench, scoring 13 and 12 points, respectively.
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