The Syracuse Orange seem to like the No. 1 spot in the college basketball rankings, and the Orange should stay there after a 73-66 victory over No. 20 Marquette Golden Eagles in a Big East Conference game Saturday at the Carrier Dome. In front of 25,412 fans, Syracuse (17-0, 4-0 Big East) used a team-best 17 points, including 11 in the second half, from senior forward Kris Joseph to clip the Golden Eagles (12-4, 1-2), who trailed by as much as 23 points. SU is the last of the 16 conference teams to not lose a league game.
Behind a electrifying 19-0 run and 11 points from sophomore guard Brandon Triche, SU took a commanding 37-19 advantage into halftime. However, the Golden Eagles rallied, as they stiffened up its defense, which forced eight second-half turnovers and held the Orange to just 28-percent shooting in the next 15 1/2 minutes, to trim the margin to 59-57 with about 4 1/2 minutes remaining.
A 7-0 run helped SU push its lead to 68-60 with 2:13 remaining. The run was started by sophomore center Baye Ketia, who was fouled after an inbound pass and headed to the free-throw line for two shots.
Keita, who entered the contest making only 68.8-percent of his shots from the charity stripe, made both to extend SU's lead to 61-57.
On the Golden Eagles' next possession, SU sophomore guard Dion Waiters blocked a 3-point attempt by Marquette's senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom, collected the loose ball and laid it into the basket to give the Orange a 63-57 lead with 4:20 to go.
"Baye made the two shots of the year," said head coach Jim Boeheim after the game, "I was trying to call a time out, I saw him trapped, I wanted to get a timeout. They called the foul before I did. He goes to the line, makes those two free throws. That was big in a two-point game."
The run was capped by Joseph nailing 3-pointer and then sophomore center Fab Melo flushing home a alley-oop pass from senior point guard Scoop Jardine. From there, SU was able to hang on for its 17th straight victory.
'When you lose a lead, especially at home, it's easy to start worrying and think about what's happening," said Boeheim.
"...I thought, the last seven or eight minutes of this game was great. The way we came back and played after they made that huge run. That's what we're going to think about most in this game. The team coming back like that."
Syracuse sophomore forward C.J. Fair tallied 13 points and eight rebounds off the bench, while Waiters added 12. Melo finished with six points and eight rebounds. Triche finished with 16 points.
"Any time you get whipped the way we did in the first half you have to credit the other team," said Marquette head coach Buzz Williams.
Marquette was paced by Johnson-Odom, who scored a game-best 19 points on 5-of-16 shooting.
SB Nation New York blogged live from press row at the Carrier Dome for the Syracuse vs. Marquette Big East showdown. Be sure to check back to this StoryStream for post-game comments from SU head coach Jim Boeheim. For more on the Orange, visit the SB Nation blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, while Anonymous Eagle as everything on Marquette. Make sure to follow along on Twitter at SBNationNY or JaredSmithCNY.