Ryan MacCammon | Staff PhotographerMen's Basketball
OH, WHAT A KNIGHT: Syracuse surges past Rutgers with 21-0 1st-half run, Boeheim moves ahead of Bob Knight with 903rd career win
Syracuse pummeled Rutgers in the paint and on the scoreboard for the final eight minutes of the first half.
The Orange forced the Scarlet Knights into 12 consecutive missed shots and three turnovers while scoring 21 points in the same stretch. Opening its Big East slate for the 34th and final time, Syracuse displayed a prowess that left even its head coach, with his 903 career wins, surprised as the Orange (13-1, 1-0 Big East) crushed the Scarlet Knights (9-3, 0-1) 78-53.
“We were playing well and then we started to play even better,” head coach Jim Boeheim said. “We made great decisions.”
With his 903rd career victory, Boeheim moves into second place all-time in wins, surpassing Bob Knight’s 902. For most of this one, Boeheim could breathe easily, as Syracuse turned a two-point deficit into a blowout with a 21-0 run to close out the first half. Syracuse’s stingy interior defense combined with efficient transition offense allowed the Orange to win easily, its 13th consecutive win in the series against Rutgers.
Rutgers began the game hot from 3-point range, draining four of its first seven attempts. Three of those came from Eli Carter, who led Rutgers with 19 points. It was his runner from the free-throw line that gave the Scarlet Knights their first lead, 20-18 with 8:19 to play in the first half.
It was their only lead, as Rutgers made just two 3s the rest of the game. And SU’s defense was a wall inside.
“We did a good job down low inside,” Boeheim said. “Trapping.”
Syracuse recorded seven blocks in the first half, nearly equaling its per-game average of 7.5. With the score knotted at 20, Rutgers forward Wally Judge held the ball down low. Soon the extended arms of James Southerland and Rakeem Christmas trapped him. Judge managed to fling a wild, loopy pass out to the perimeter, but when forward Dane Miller tried bringing the ball back into the middle, Christmas swatted away his futile attempt.
Syracuse’s guards got things going at the other end. Michael Carter-Williams grabbed a rebound off of a Rutgers miss and sped up the court. He drove down the left side of the paint and used his size to his advantage, extending his arm past the reach of the 6-foot-2 Carter for a layup to give SU a 28-20 lead.
Rutgers head coach Mike Rice, returning from a three-game suspension, called two timeouts in a 66-second span, to no avail. Syracuse scored four points in between timeouts, with a Triche layup inside giving the Orange a 30-20 lead.
After the second timeout, Carter-Williams came off of the court smiling and bobbing his head. Triche led the Orange with 25 points, the most he’s had since he scored 27 against Oakland in his freshman season. Carter-Williams recorded 12 points and 10 assists for SU.
“We’re unstoppable if we’re able to rebound the ball,” Triche said. “I think that’s big, either rebound the ball or get steals. It’s going to lead to getting us in transition.”
Syracuse’s lead only grew in the second half, as the Orange scored the first basket with a Carter-Williams 3-pointer. Rutgers ended its scoring drought less than a minute into the half, but never challenged.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Triche gave the Orange its largest lead of the game, 62-33, with 12:26 to play. The second came on a beautiful drive and dish from Carter-Williams, leaving Triche with plenty of room in front of him on the left wing.
The Orange continued to play with energy even with its huge lead, sparked by a run that was one of its most dominant stretches of play this season — reminiscent of the runs that last year’s squad went on consistently on its way to the Elite Eight.
“Everyone was contributing,” Carter-Williams said. “Our bigs did a great job of blocking shots and getting rebounds and the wings did a great job running the floor. And Brandon and I did a great job getting them the ball.
“It was definitely a team effort and it was one of our peaks this year.”
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