SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- No James Southerland, no problem for Syracuse.
Even with Southerland, the Orange's top reserve, benched because of an apparent academic issue, No. 7 Syracuse downed Villanova, 72-61, on Saturday in a Big East Conference game at the Carrier Dome before 27,586 fans, the largest college basketball crowd of the season.
Junior forward C.J. Fair scored 11 of Syracuse's first 13 points in the second half as the Orange went on a 13-5 run to grab a 40-34 lead.
Syracuse never trailed again, and it used a 17-4 run capped by Trevor Cooney's two three-pointers to build a 61-47 cushion with six minutes remaining.
Fair led both teams with 22 points, while freshman Jerami Grant, who played Southerland's role, chipped in with 13. JayVaughn Pinkston scored 12 points and Mouphtaou Yarou had 11 for Villanova.
The Orange has won 34 consecutive games at the Carrier Dome, including 12 this season, and owns the nation's longest homecourt winning streak.
Syracuse's last home defeat came on Feb. 9, 2011, against Georgetown.
Over the years, Villanova has been the most successful opponent at the Dome. The Wildcats had won three of their last four games in Syracuse, and even with the loss they have won 13 of their 28 games at the Dome.
Southerland, a 6-foot-8 senior forward, ranks third on the team in scoring (13.0) and second in rebounding (6.3). He is a leading candidate for the national Sixth Man of the Year award.
Southerland watched the game in street clothes from the end of the bench, usually reserved for the team's walk-ons.
With its sixth consecutive victory, the Orange improved to 16-1 and 4-0 in the Big East. The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Wildcats, who dropped to 11-5 and 2-1 in the conference.
Both teams got off to a sluggish start. They combined to make one of their first 14 shots, and that was on a goaltending call.
While Syracuse made only three of its first 18 shots, the Wildcats went on a 6-0 run to build their biggest lead of the first half, 14-9. The Orange countered with a 10-2 spurt to take a 19-16 lead, but the Wildcats finished the half with a 10-5 run to grab a 29-27.
Fair's outburst to start the second half enabled the Orange to build a 40-34 lead. Syracuse's 17-4 second-half run featured a monster dunk by Rakeem Christmas, a nifty drive by Fair, and redshirt freshman Cooney's two three-pointers.
NOTES: The victory was the 906th in coach Jim Boeheim's career, which ranks second on the all-time Division I list to the 942 compiled by Mike Krzyzewski of Duke. ... In the all-time series, Syracuse leads Villanova, 38-31. ... Villanova's Dylan Ennis, who is sitting out this season after transferring from Rice, is the older brother of Syracuse recruit Tyler Ennis, who is a senior at St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, N.J.