Sophomore guard Dion Waiters scored a game-best 16 points and senior forward Kris Joseph added 12 for the No. 1-ranked Syracuse Orange men's basketball program, who Monday earned a 71-63 victory over the Pittsburgh Panthers in a Big East Conference game at the Carrier Dome.
In front of 24,826 fans, the Orange improved their unblemished record to 20-0 (7-0 Big East) and set a new school record for consecutive wins to start the season. In the process, SU helped head coach Jim Boeheim earn his 876th-career victory, which helped him move into a tie with former Kentucky Wildcats head coach Adolph Rupp for fourth all-time on the Division I list.
"When you get in these games you just gotta make plays and we did," said Boeheim, who had very little to say about his achievement that took 36 years to accomplish.
"The only thing I care about is this year. That's it."
Syracuse cruised to an early second-half lead off 11, but its seemingly cozy margin was trimmed to just 53-49 with 8:36 remaining.
The Orange answered after a Boeheim timeout, as Joseph and Jardine nailed back-to-back 3-balls on consecutive trips to push SU's lead back to double-digits, 59-49, with 7:07 to go. With the help from senior point guard Scoop Jardine's 12 points and 10 assists and making 11 of 12 shots from the free-throw line in the final 4:07, the Orange snapped a five-game home losing streak to Pittsburgh (11-8, 0-6).
"You're not going to make every shot every game," said Waiters, who tallied 10 points in the second half, including the big 3-pointer," but the shots they gave us we hit'em. We took the right the shots at the right time and opened the game wide open. That's the biggest thing."
The Panthers, who last year gave Syracuse its first loss of the season, have now dropped seven straight games, including a school-record six straight in the Big East.
Sophomore center Fab Melo collected 10 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks for SU, while junior guard Brandon Triche tallied 10 points. Sophomore forward C.J. Fair finished with seven points and five rebounds off the bench.
"We haven't attacked zones very well," said Boeheim. "When it got to four (points) we did a good job of attacking the zone and getting a good screen for Kris (Joseph) and a good 3 on the other side for Dion (Waiters)."
Meanwhile, senior guard Ashton Gibbs, sophomore forward LaMar Patterson and freshman guard Cameron Wright each tallied a team-best 10 points for Pitt, which finished the game shooting just 22-for-56 from the floor (39.9-percent).
In the first half, Syracuse opened the game with a 13-0 run to take a commanding early lead.
However, Pitt answered with a 13-4 run, including five points from Patterson, that trimmed the margin to just 19-15 with 7:00 to go in the half.
Pitt trailed 26-21 with 3:55 to go, but SU used a small 7-0 run and a late-second basket from Waiters to take a 35-26 lead into halftime.
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