Often times, young men become distracted from what is perhaps their best path when they are in the grasp of love, or at least infatuation. For #7 Syracuse, perhaps emboldened by connecting on four three-pointers in the opening minutes, this affinity came for the long-range shot and it appeared to jeopardize head coach Jim Boeheim’s chance at his 903rd career victory early Wednesday night.
The Orange (13-1, 1-0 Big East), however, broke free from the siren song of the three-point-line and used their superior athleticism and size to propel their head coach into sole possession of second place in the Division I men’s basketball victories list by dumping Rutgers (9-3, 0-1) at the Carrier Dome, 78-53. Regardless of any shot selection questions, SU did a solid job of taking care of the ball in the game, turning it over only nine times, while forcing 20 miscues by the Scarlet Knights.
Brandon Triche came out on fire from deep, hitting a pair of three-pointers in the opening minutes to propel Syracuse to an early 8-2 lead, then tacked on another to put the Orange up 11-7 just over five minutes into the game. Rutgers responded by tying the score twice, followed by SU going cold from the floor as they missed their next eight field goal attempts, including five hoists from beyond the arc. Fortunately for Syracuse, Rutgers only made a pair of shots against two SU free throws and the Orange ended their cold streak trailing 20-18.
With just under seven minutes left in the opening half, the Orange got rolling, making five consecutive lay-ups to trigger a 21-0 whitewash of the Scarlet Knights leading up to the halftime horn. At that horn, Syracuse went into the locker room with a 39-20 lead.
After another Orange bucket opened the second half, Rutgers finally got on the board again, ending a streak of 14 consecutive misses from the field that lasted just over nine minutes. The two squads alternated scores for the next several minutes until Triche closed an 8-0 SU run two more treys to push the lead to 62-33 less than eight minutes into the second half.
The teams resumed alternating scores until six straight Scarlet Knight points had the visitors within 67-46 with less than seven minutes to play. Syracuse responded with an 8-2 run to regain control at 75-48. The lead ranged between 25 and 28 points over the final three minutes as the Orange cruised home from there.
Brandon Triche exploded on offense, draining 5-of-7 from beyond the arc en route to his game-high 25 points. C.J. Fair provided ample support on both ends of the court, dropping in 15 points and blocking three shots in the game. Michael Carter-Williams had another double-double, adding a dozen points and ten assists to the SU attack.
The Orange are faced with their first Big East road matchup on Sunday when they travel to Tampa to battle with South Florida. The Bulls (9-3) have won their last four games and their game against Syracuse is their season debut in conference play. Tip-off is set for 12 p.m. and the game is available on television on SNY and is available online at ESPN3.com.Jim Stechschulte @dsafetyguy