Saturday afternoon, #2 Syracuse used a strong shooting performance to put away Connecticut for an 85-67 victory at the Carrier Dome. The Orange (25-1, 12-1) maintained their two-game lead on Marquette in the Big East by shooting over 59 percent from the field for the game, including connecting on 10-of-16 three-point attempts.
The Huskies (15-9, 5-7) were game for the first 34 minutes of action, but SU ended the contest by outscoring them 22-6 down the stretch. Syracuse also rebounded, literally, from their poor performance against Georgetown, winning the battle of the boards, 31-29.
Connecticut opened up the scoring with a three-pointer, then extended their lead to 10-5 just over four minutes into the action. The Orange knotted the score with the next five points, then shortly after ran off a 13-1 run. The burst was punctuated by C.J. Fair dunking emphatically on the business end of an alley-oop and gave SU a 25-15 lead. The Huskies responded, whittling the lead down to three points on three separate occasions late in the half, but Syracuse closed the opening session with an 8-2 burst to hold a 43-34 lead at the break.
A three-point-play by Fair extended the Orange lead to 11 in the first minute of the second half, but UConn would not go away. The visitors scored the next six points to get within 46-41, then got within two points as the second half neared its middle. Jim Boeheim called a time out that helped SU settle down and the team responded with the next seven points of the game to extend their control to 61-52.
The Huskies retaliated with one more push, clipping the margin down to 63-61 with 6:26 to play. Scoop Jardine hit back-to-back triples for the Orange, stretching the lead to eight points and bringing a crowd of 33,430 to life. Syracuse rode that adrenaline shot to rip off 12 straight points capped by another Jardine three to take an 81-62 lead with just under a minute left. SU glided home from there, at one point nudging the lead out to 20 points before time elapsed.
Scoop Jardine was the top scorer for the Orange, ringing up a season-best 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field, including burying all four of his three-pointers. Dion Waiters made 7-of-10 tries from the floor en route to 18 points off the bench and Kris Joseph made a trio of treys as part of his 15 points. C.J. Fair had a double-double, tallying 14 points and collecting a personal-best dozen rebounds. Fab Melo blocked three shots in the contest.
Syracuse heads to Louisville on Monday for a matchup with perpetual thorn-in-the-side Cardinals. The #24 Cards (20-5, 8-4) have not only won their last six games overall, but they have defeated the Orange in each of their last seven contests.
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