SYRACUSE, N.Y. – George Washington is Syracuse's latest victim, getting overpowered by the Orange's zone defense and failing to take care of the basketball.
The Colonials (4-5) fell, 85-50, to No. 3 Syracuse (10-0) on Saturday night, their fourth straight loss, and went just 19 of 62 for 30.6 percent room the field while committing 18 turnovers that led to 34 Orange points.
"I knew we'd have to make shots," Colonials coach Mike Lonergan said. "Our best shooter is 2 for 11 and one of our other scorers is 3 for 13 and we don't have a whole lot inside.
"It was not exactly a good matchup for us."
David Pellom had 12 points and seven rebounds, while Lasan Kromah and Dwayne Smith each added 10 points for the Colonials.
Senior guard Tony Taylor, who came into the game averaging 14.1 points and was shooting 50 percent from the perimeter, had no such luck against the Orange. He shot 2 of 8 overall and missed all four shots he took from beyond the arc. As a team, the Colonials were just 3 of 18 (16.7 percent) from 3-point range.
"It's very tough," Taylor said. "Syracuse does a great job in that 2-3 (zone), forces you to play outside your comfort zone. They did a really good job forcing us into turnovers. We didn't take care of the ball."
Dion Waiters had 19 points and six steals, both career highs, as the unbeaten Orange (10-0) enjoyed a good day where things fell into place. In the midst of a federal investigation, Syracuse is poised to move to No. 1 in the national rankings after top-ranked Kentucky lost to Indiana, 73-72, and No. 2 Ohio State lost to No. 13 Kansas, 78-67.
Kris Joseph had nine points and eight rebounds, and Scoop Jardine, Brandon Triche, Fab Melo, and C.J. Fair each scored eight for the Orange. Freshman guard Michael Carter-Williams had five points and a season-high eight assists.
It was the fourth game for Syracuse since associate head coach Bernie Fine was fired after allegations by three men that he sexually molested them as minors. Two were former Orange ballboys. Fine has maintained his innocence and no charges have been filed. The investigation is expected to last several more weeks.
"If we lose a game, it's not going to be because they're distracted," coach Jim Boeheim said after Fine was fired Nov. 27. "They have to be focused."
So far, the Orange have been just that.
Having displayed great anticipation on defense, Syracuse entered the game ranked first in the nation in steals, averaging 12.5 a game, and second in turnover margin at plus-8.2, trailing only Ohio State. The Colonials found out why at the outset as they struggled to find any openings.
George Washington hit just 1 of its first 16 shots — a runner by Bryan Bynes 3 minutes into the game. By the time Pellom converted a layup 3 minutes later, Syracuse was up 13-4, led by six points from Jardine.
George Washington, shooting 41.5 percent from beyond the arc this season, was 2 of 9 in the first half as the Orange challenged every shooter, registering five blocks and six steals. Having to peer over the likes of the 7-foot Melo, Mikic missed his first five shots and finished with six points on 2 of 11 shooting.
Trailing 37-21 after Melo followed his own miss with 5 minutes to go in the first half, the frustration showed when Pellom threw a pass from under the basket right to Jardine near the foul line, and he scored on a breakaway layup.
When the Colonials pressed, Fair scored on a layup, and when the Orange returned the favor by pressing on the next possession, Fair stole the ball and fed Waiters for a resounding one-handed dunk.
Waiters made the free throw to complete a three-point play for a 26-12 lead midway through the half, and Michael Carter-Williams' lob to Waiters in the final minute sent the Orange into the locker room with a commanding 45-25 lead.
When Syracuse built the lead to 31 late in the second half, the student section began chanting "We're No. 1."
In the four-game skid — in which George Washington lost to Kansas State, VCU, Loyola, Md., and now, Syracuse — the Colonials have not topped 60 points in any game.