Saturday, January 12, 2013 2:41 pm
No. 7 Syracuse beats Villanova 72-61
By JOHN KEKISAP Sports Writer
Syracuse (16-1, 4-0 Big East) has won 34 straight home games, the longest active streak in the nation in Division I. Villanova (11-5, 2-1) had its seven-game winning streak snapped.
Fresh from two straight wins on the road, the Orange played without James Southerland. The senior, the Orange's second-leading scorer at 13.6 points per game in his key role off the bench, is out until further notice because of an eligibility matter, the university said in a statement released just before the game. He sat on the bench in street clothes.
Jerami Grant had a career-high 13 and Dajuan Coleman had six points as Syracuse's freshmen had important contributions after hardly playing at Providence on Wednesday night. Michael Carter-Williams finished with 10 points and seven assists and Brandon Triche had 10 points.
JayVaughn Pinkston led Villanova with 12 points and Mouphtaou Yarou had 11 points and 14 rebounds. Ryan Arcidiacono had seven points, missing six of seven shots from behind the arc as Villanova shot 5 of 23 from long range.
Syracuse trailed for much of the first half. After Triche was called for his fourth foul with 16:26 left in the second, the Orange were without their top two scorers when he sat down on the bench not far from Southerland.
Fair, who entered the game with three double-doubles in the previous four games, became the go-to guy for Syracuse, scoring 11 of the Orange's first 15 points of the period. He broke a 34-all tie with a midrange jumper just before Triche's fourth foul, then converted a floater in the lane and sank two free throws to give Syracuse a 40-34 lead at 13:46.
After Arcidiacono scored from the wing, Carter-Williams passed to Coleman for a basket off the glass after a pretty fake underneath to keep the Syracuse lead at six.
The crowd of 27,586, largest of the season in the Carrier Dome, then got loud as Syracuse went on a 15-4 run to gain a 14-point cushion.
Coleman started the surge with a two-handed slam dunk and Cooney finished it with two 3-pointers in a 44-second span, giving Syracuse a 61-47 lead with 5:48 left.
James Bell's 3-pointer from the left corner narrowed the lead to 64-58 with 2:03 left, but the Orange held on with some clutch free throw shooting.
In its only loss of the season, an 83-79 setback to Temple at Madison Square Garden, Syracuse missed 15 free throws. Against the Wildcats, the Orange finished 24 of 30 from the line, making 8 of 10 in the final 90 seconds. Grant, a 35.7 percent shooter from the line, finished 5 of 6.
The game started out as a struggle on both sides. In the first five minutes, the teams combined to shoot 1 of 14, committed five turnovers and registered five blocks as Nova took a 3-2 lead.
The Wildcats had the largest lead of the first half at 14-9 when Yarou converted off the glass with 8 minutes left.
Villanova held a 29-27 lead at the break, a season-low halftime score for the Orange, not much of showing for a 26-18 rebounding edge. Syracuse shot 30.3 percent (10 of 33) and struggled from behind the arc, going 1 for 7, and registered only three assists. Nova wasn't much better, shooting 9 of 29 (31 percent) and 2 of 12 on 3-pointers.