Syracuse beats St. John’s 87-58
NEW YORK (AP)—Jim Boeheim got the win that put him all alone on a special list. Syracuse got the victory that keeps it in the mix.
Jonny Flynn scored 21 points and the Orange shot a season-high 65 percent from the field in an 87-58 victory over St. John’s on Tuesday night, a win that gave Boeheim his record 31st 20-win season.
Boeheim entered the game tied with former North Carolina coach Dean Smith for the Division I record for 20-win seasons.
“I remember thinking when I started coaching that Adolph Rupp had 876 wins and I thought that’s 20 wins a year for 40 years and I’m only going to last 10,” said the Hall of Fame coach who picked up win No. 791 in his 33rd season as a head coach. “At least I’ve lasted more than 10.”
The Orange (20-8, 8-7 Big East) had lost seven of its last 10 and dropped out of the Top 25 for the first time since the third week of the regular season, a streak in which they reached as high as No. 8.
Syracuse has three games remaining before the Big East tournament so it has a chance to eliminate any talk of being a team on the bubble as Selection Sunday approaches.
“I’m sure everyone thinks it’s a cliche thing but you worry about the next game you play and I’m already worried about Cincinnati,” Boeheim said. “People tend to get into these number things. We’ve lost five games to people ranked in the top 12 in the country. When you’re not beating the top 12, you know what that means? It means you’re not in the top 12 in the country. … Just because you can’t beat the top 12 teams in the country has nothing to do with how good your team is. We did beat the No. 4 team on their home court and No. 15 on their second home court. I’m not concerned about that. I’m concerned about us going home and playing as well as we did tonight.”
The Orange entered the game leading the Big East in shooting at 48.5 percent and they had their best shooting game of the season, going 37-for-57 (64.9 percent).
Paris Horne had 17 points for the Red Storm (13-15, 4-11), who have lost six of seven.
Eric Devendorf had 17 points for Syracuse, while Rick Jackson added 15 on 7-for-8 shooting and Arinze Onuaku had 14 on 7-for-8 shooting.
The Orange and the large percentage of the crowd of 11,148 at Madison Square Garden wearing that color had a good time celebrating in the second half.
“We needed to win and it really didn’t matter if it was fun or not,” Devendorf said. “We got a real comfortable lead in the first half and kept it out of reach. We did a lot of good things on the defensive end.”
Syracuse dominated the Red Storm inside, outscoring them 56-30 in the paint.
“St. John’s let us get the ball in the post and that helped us a lot,” Flynn said. “Any time you play at the Garden you have to bring your ‘A’ game.”
The Orange’s best shooting game until this was 61.1 percent in an 82-66 win over Rutgers (33-for-54) on Jan. 10.
The Orange closed the first half on an 8-0 run for a 39-18 lead. The Red Storm didn’t score for the final 3:46 of the half missing two shots from the field, a free throw and committing three of its 19 turnovers. St. John’s shot 26.9 percent in the first half (7-for-26), while the Orange were 17-for-26 (65.4 percent)
“I thought we played as well offensively and defensively in the first half as we had all season long,” Boeheim said. “
Syracuse scored the first four points of the second half for a 43-18 lead and the Orange led by as many as 31 points, 84-53 with just under a minute to play.
“I was frustrated that we didn’t meet the intensity of the game early like we should have,” St. John’s coach Norm Roberts said. “We just played somewhat immature. Things didn’t go our way and we got frustrated.”
This was Syracuse’s third straight win over the Red Storm and ninth in the last 10 meetings.