Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim tied Adolph Rupp for fourth on the NCAA Division’s all-time win list with 876 career wins and Syracuse started the season 20-0 for the first time in school history with a 71-63 win over Pittsburgh on Monday night.
But for Boeheim, the win wasn’t any more (or less) memorable than the next.
When asked about the significance of the team starting 20-0, Boeheim used fewer words than fingers on his right hand.
“No significance,” Boeheim said. “None whatsoever.”
And his thoughts on ascending to fourth in the all-time wins list?
“None,” Boeheim said. “The only thing I care about is this year, what we’re doing this year.”
The win over Pitt ended several different streaks.
The Orange defeated the Panthers for the first time since Gerry McNamara led SU to the Big East championship in the 2005-06 season and the first time in the Carrier Dome since the 2002-03 season.
No current player on Syracuse had the experience of toppling the Panthers.
“That’s definitely something I told myself I wanted to do before I left Syracuse,” forward Kris Joseph said. “Tonight gave me a chance to do that.”
Despite Pitt dropping to 11-8 and 0-6 in the Big East, the Panthers gave No. 1 Syracuse a tough game. Although the Orange jumped out to a 13-0 lead, Pitt stayed close throughout the night, never trailing by more than 14 points.
At one point, the Panthers pulled to within 53-49 with 8:39 left.
But SU immediately responded, as Joseph and Dion Waiters hit 3-pointers on back to back plays, and Syracuse led by at least eight the rest of the way.
“We made those two when we really needed them,” Boeheim said. “We did a good job attacking the zone, getting a good shot for Kris and a good shot for Dion and they knocked them down.”
Those shots preserved SU’s historic night.
“It’s the best start in school history, and it’s against Pittsburgh,” he said. “It’s two great things.”
Corey Mallonee contributed to this story with reporting from Syracuse.