No. 1 Syracuse goes 20-0 with 71-63 win over Pitt

January 16, 2012 - 10:50 PM
Pittsburgh Syracuse Basketball

Syracuse's Scoop Jardine passes over Pittsburgh's Ashton Gibbs during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Syracuse, N.Y., Monday, Jan. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Dion Waiters had 16 points and Scoop Jardine had 12 points and 10 assists as No. 1 Syracuse beat Pittsburgh 71-63 on Monday night to open the season with 20 straight wins.

The Orange (20-0, 7-0 Big East) set a school record for most consecutive victories to start a season and it was win No. 876 for coach Jim Boeheim, tying him with Adolph Rupp of Kentucky for fourth place all-time in Division I. North Carolina's Dean Smith is third with 879.

Boeheim extended his Division I record for most 20-win seasons to 34.

It was the seventh straight loss for Pittsburgh (11-8, 0-6). The Panthers were coming off a stunning 62-39 home loss to Rutgers last Wednesday, the fewest points they scored in a regulation game since a 53-30 loss to Temple in 1969.

Ashton Gibbs, Cameron Wright and Lamar Patterson all scored 10 points for Pitt, which had beaten Syracuse five straight times and had won 13 of the past 16 meetings.

Kris Joseph and Brandon Triche both had 12 points for Syracuse, while Fab Melo had 10 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks before fouling out in the final minute.

The Orange are No. 1 for the sixth straight week, matching the longest run in school history set at the start of 1989-90.

Talib Zanna and John Johnson had nine points each for the Panthers.

The Orange's last home win against the Panthers was 67-65 on Feb. 1, 2003. Syracuse's last win over Pitt was 65-61 in the 2006 Big East tournament championship game, and its last victory during the regular season was 49-46 in overtime in February 2004 at the Petersen Events Center.

Pitt trailed 48-34 with 15:10 left when Jardine hit from the right corner and flashed a smile as he headed back up court. Undaunted, the Panthers came back as they worked the shot clock looking for openings in the Syracuse zone. A 3-pointer by Johnson as the shot-clock buzzer sounded and Dante Taylor's reverse layup had them within nine points in less than 2 minutes.

A 3 by Waiters boosted the lead back to nine, but Johnson hit another 3 and Zanna scored four straight points to move Pitt within 53-49 with 8:36 left.

Syracuse responded quickly. Waiters drove and dished to Joseph on the wing for a wide-open 3 and after Johnson missed from long range for the first time in the game, Waiters swished a 3 from the left wing and the lead was back to 10.Pittsburgh never got closer than eight points.

It was Pitt's first game against a top-ranked team in nearly three years. The Panthers brought a 2-13 record in those games into the Carrier Dome, but those two wins came in succession against Connecticut in February and March 2009.

Pittsburgh scored the first 19 points in beating the third-ranked Orange 74-66 at the Petersen Events Center a year ago, Syracuse's first loss of the season after 18 straight wins.

The Orange seemed intent on turning the tables in this one, storming to a 13-0 lead as the Panthers missed their first six shots and Melo registered three blocks in the first 4 minutes.

In last year's game, the Orange rallied right back, scoring 17 straight points, and Pitt responded in this one with a 15-6 spurt. A three-point play by Wright after an acrobatic layup and a free throw by Patterson moved Pitt within 19-15 with 7 minutes left in the first half.

Syracuse boosted the lead back to as many as 12 points on Melo's dunk with 2:24 to go and led 35-26 at halftime. The Orange had eight blocks, forced 11 turnovers, and had nine assists on 14-of-27 shooting (51.9 percent) while holding Pitt to 10 of 31 (32.3 percent) from the field.