Driven by a career-high 21 points from C.J. Fair, Syracuse defeated Rutgers 74-65 in Piscataway, New Jersey, at the Rutgers Athletic Center (The RAC.)
The second-ranked Orange (27-1, 14-1 Big East) used a balanced attack to beat the Scarlet Knights (12-15, 4-10) for the 12th straight time and have not lost to Rutgers since its national championship season of 2003.
Fair went 6-of-8 from the floor and hit all eight of his free-throw attempts. He also grabbed a team-leading eight rebounds to solidify his banner day.
Rutgers was riding a three-game win streak against top-10 opponents at The Rac (Villanova, Florida, Connecticut). The Scarlet Knights were prepared for the Orange and managed to keep the game close throughout on the back of its 6’8” Lithuanian sophomore, Gilvydas Biruta. Syracuse had no answer for Biruta, whose 21 points paced Rutgers and kept the Scarlet Knights within four points throughout most of the game.
A key block, however, of a Biruta layup in the closing minutes by Fab Melo led to a Scoop Jardine three-point basket, which put the Orange up by seven around the one-minute mark.
Jardine provided 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting and dished out seven assists. On a rare day in which only six Orange players would score, Jardine’s hot shooting sealed the game for Syracuse.
In the post-game press conference, Coach Jim Boeheim expressed that Syracuse still has some work to do.
I don’t think we are playing the way we have to. I thought in the beginning of the year we have some good movement in games, and I thought we were playing better offense then. I think our defense is playing steady. Our offense could still use some work.
Rutgers closed the game to within two points on five different occasions in the second half, but Syracuse never gave up the lead.
Syracuse plays South Florida next on Wednesday night and will debut its new Nike uniforms to mark the occasion.
Syracuse’s 27 wins are best in the nation. And with only one loss, this is the best start to a season in the school’s history at the 28-game mark.
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