It required a little more work than many of those that preceded it, but Jim Boeheim was able to coax career victory number 900 out of Syracuse, getting his team to hold on late for a 72-68 home win over Detroit.
Boeheim joined two other men, Mike Krzyzewski and Bob Knight, as the only coaches to secure 900 victories in Division I men’s basketball. He is the lone member of that trio to collect that many wins at both one school and at his alma mater.
The Orange (10-0), who ascended to #3 in the nation in the polls released prior to the game, led by as many as 22 points in the second half, then needed to stick their free throws in the final minute to hold off a comeback by the Titans (6-5). It was not a particularly good effort for SU, as they committed 18 turnovers that Detroit turned into 21 points.
After Syracuse opened the game with a pair of baskets in the opening minute, Detroit responded in kind to knot the score at four a side. The Orange responded with the next half dozen points to take the lead for good. The teams traded scores for a few minutes until SU scored five straight to start a 12-1 run.
The burst put Syracuse in front by a 27-13 margin with 7:30 left in the opening half. Shortly after, the Orange followed that run by outscoring the Titans 10-4 to extend their lead to 37-19 with less than two minutes on the clock. A late three-pointer extended the SU lead to 40-21 at the break.
The Orange maintained a comfortable lead for the opening nine minutes of the second half, keeping Detroit between 17 and 21 points off the pace. The Titans got within 16, but Syracuse responded with a 7-1 run to extend their lead to its greatest point at 61-39 with 9:30 left. The Orange kept the Titans at arm’s length for the next three minutes, but the visitors made their move with just over five minutes on the clock, scoring 16 points while shutting out SU. The run placed Detroit in prime position, trailing Syracuse 67-64 with 29 seconds to go. Michael Carter-Williams, however, hit five of six free throws to hold off the Titans and preserve the lead for the Orange.
For the second straight outing and fifth time this season, James Southerland paced the Orange in the points column, ringing up 22, mostly by connecting on five three-point field goals. For the sixth straight game, Michael Carter-Williams finished with a double-double, this time tallying a dozen points and ten assists.
The Orange will face a stiff test on Saturday in the Gotham Classic when they take on Temple at Madison Square Garden. The Owls (7-1) have only lost at then-#2 Duke and face Canisius on Wednesday prior to their tilt with SU. ESPN2 will televise the game, which will tip off at noon.Jim Stechschulte (Follow on Twitter @dsafetyguy)