Monday night was one of milestones reached, as well streaks both continuing and ending. #1 Syracuse set a school record for the best start to a season at 20-0 by knocking off Pittsburgh at the Carrier Dome, 71-63. The victory extended head coach Jim Boeheim’s record for 20-win seasons to 34 (in 36 years), as well as marked the 876th win in his career, tying him with Adolph Rupp for fourth place all-time in Division I. The Orange moved to 7-0 in Big East play, snapping a pair of losing streaks against Pitt (11-8, 0-6), who had won both the last five matchups overall with SU, as well as the last five contests between the two schools at the Carrier Dome. The Orange turned in another excellent defensive effort, particularly in the first half when they held the Panthers to 32.3 percent shooting and forced 11 turnovers.
Syracuse started the game in high gear, exploding to a 13-0 lead with a series of fast break scores and alley-oops that revved up the Carrier Dome crowd. Pitt was shaken, but regained their footing with a 9-2 run to get within six points before the game was eight minutes old. Back-to-back scores put the Orange back on top by ten, but the Panthers clawed back within four with seven minutes left on the clock at 19-15. SU pushed the lead back out to nine points, then later rattled off seven straight points for a 33-21 lead with just over two minutes left in the half. Pitt got within seven, but a basket moments before the buzzer gave the Orange a 35-26 lead at the break.
After a Panther three started the second half, Syracuse scored the next six points to jumpstart an 11-3 run to take the biggest lead of the night at 46-32. Pitt responded to this by clawing back within 53-49 with less than nine minutes to go, forcing an SU time out. The sideline session worked perfectly, as the Orange came out and buried consecutive three-pointers to jolt the lead back to double digits with just over seven minutes on the clock. Syracuse rode that momentum the rest of the way, keeping the lead between eight and 11 points the remainder of the game, in part by making all eight of their free throw attempts in the final 1:40.
Dion Waiters finished in double figures for the seventh straight game, topping the Orange with 16 points, including ten after the break. Four other SU players hit double figures in the points column. Scoop Jardine, Kris Joseph, and Brandon Triche each contributed a dozen points while Fab Melo added ten. Jardine also dished out ten assists for a double-double and Melo grabbed ten rebounds for a double-double of his own. Melo also swatted six shots in the game while C.J. Fair added three blocks of his own.
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