Published January 14, 2012
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Dion Waiters had 12 points, seven coming during a decisive first-half run, Scoop Jardine added 10 points and nine assists, and top-ranked Syracuse beat undermanned Providence 78-55 on Saturday night to remain unbeaten.
The victory for the Orange (19-0, 6-0 Big East) matches the school record for wins to start a season, set in 1999-2000. Syracuse will try to break the mark Monday night at home against Pittsburgh. The Panthers (11-7, 0-5) are the only winless team in the Big East after a 62-57 loss on Saturday at No. 25 Marquette — their sixth straight setback.
The win also was the 875th for Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, moving him within one of Adolph Rupp for fourth place all-time in Division I.
Kris Joseph led Syracuse with 13 points, seldom-used Mookie Jones had 10, and C.J. Fair added nine.
Kadeem Batts led Providence with 13 points, LaDontae Henton had 12 points on 5-of-16 shooting and Gerard Coleman had 11 points on 4-of-14 from the field.
The Friars (12-7, 1-5) were coming off a surprising 90-59 win over No. 14 Louisville, but they played without junior guard Vince Council, their leading scorer. Head coach Ed Cooley said it was a coach's decision in a handout before the game. Council, who had 15 points and 14 assists against Louisville — the most assists in a league game this season — has scored 20 or more points five times and is averaging 16.4 a game. He had 17 points and five assists in Providence's 87-73 loss to Syracuse 10 days ago.
In that loss, Providence stayed with Syracuse for most of the game and shot 48.9 percent, the second-highest Syracuse has allowed this season. The Friars also made six 3-pointers but were unable to overcome the hot-shooting Orange, who hit 19 of 26 (73.1 percent) shots in the second half, including 5 of 7 from beyond the arc.
The Orange didn't resemble that team on Saturday night and seemed ripe for an upset when they started sluggishly, missing their first nine 3-point attempts and going more than 5 minutes between baskets. After Baye Keita, Waiters and James Southerland missed three straight shots in a flurry under the Providence basket, the Friars tied it 12-all on Brice Kofane's turnaround jumper at the shot-clock buzzer.
But after two free throws by Henton moved Providence within 17-16, Syracuse put together one of the spurts that have made the Orange unbeatable so far this season, running off 15 straight points as the Friars self-destructed with six straight turnovers against the Orange press. Providence had 16 turnovers in the opening period and the Orange took advantage, scoring 16 points.
Joseph started the decisive rush with a pretty no-look, over-the-shoulder pass to Jardine for a layup and Fair then stole the ball and fed Jardine for a fast-break layup. Waiters followed with a pull-up jumper in the lane, his first basket after two misses from long range, and Fair converted a short baseline jumper to boost the Syracuse lead to 25-16 with 3:38 left in the opening half.
Waiters then hit a 3 and a fall-away jumper, both from the right wing, and Joseph's two free throws made it 32-16 with 2:04 to go. Jardine's 3 at the first-half buzzer off a feed from Waiters gave Syracuse a commanding 38-21 lead at the break.
If the Friars had any hope of a rally, they had a much steeper climb than the first meeting, when they trailed 36-34 at halftime.
Syracuse made that thought moot when it began the second half with a 15-4 run as Jardine's play-making ability was on full display. He fed Fab Melo for a pair of slam dunks, passed to Joseph underneath for a reverse layup, and hit Rakeem Christmas for another dunk after Christmas has made a block at the other end.
Syracuse has led every game at halftime. The closest games the Orange have had were a 69-63 triumph over Stanford at Madison Square Garden in the NIT Season Tip-off in late November and a 72-68 win over then-No. 10 Florida at home on Dec. 2, five days after associate head coach Bernie Fine was fired amid allegations of sexual abuse.