Eric Devendorf was all alone at the top of the key with just over a minute remaining in the first half and Syracuse trailing Rutgers by a point, and he clanged a 3 off the rim.
Seconds later, after an offensive rebound by center Arinze Onuaku, Devendorf took the same wide-open shot and missed again, and the Orange went into the locker room trailing for the seventh time this year in Big East play.
As it turned out, it didn't much matter on this night.
No. 25 Syracuse rebounded from a season-low output of 19 points in the first half, exploded for 51 points in the second, and beat the Scarlet Knights 70-40 on Tuesday night.
The victory, the fourth in five games for Syracuse (22-8, 10-7 Big East), moved the Orange into a tie for sixth in the conference with Providence and clinched a first-round bye in the Big East tournament. The Scarlet Knights (10-20, 1-16), whose only victory in the conference this season came against last-place DePaul, scored a season low in losing its eighth straight.
Syracuse was struggling mightily until Andy Rautins found his mark.
"We're playing well," said Rautins, who hit three 3-pointers in a 3-minute span in the second half to break open the tight game. "We decided at halftime to play the way we have the last few games. We forced some turnovers and the turnovers led to offense. It was a fun game for us in the second half, but we can't come out like we did tonight against Marquette (on Saturday)."
Paul Harris had 18 points, Rautins finished with 11, and senior Kristof Ongenaet had six rebounds and a season-high 10 points in his final home game for the Orange.
Mike Rosario led Rutgers with 16 points.
Syracuse, which moved to 1-6 in conference games it has trailed at halftime this season, had appeared to be peaking after convincing victories over St. John's and Cincinnati. But it took the Orange a long time to get going in this one.
Rutgers controlled the tempo in the first half and controlled the game. Syracuse trailed by nine early and did not score its second basket of the game until Ongenaet's follow with 11:27 left in the first half.
"They're an outstanding team when they run and they get out in transition," Rutgers coach Fred Hill said. "If you can keep them in a half-court game, which is very difficult to do, they're not as effective. That's what we did in the first half. We gave up only four points in transition."
Syracuse scored the first basket of the game _ a 3 by Devendorf, his only points of the game _ but that was its lone lead of the first half.
The Orange slowly clawed their way back despite committing 10 turnovers in the period, but the first half was about as ugly as it gets. The Scarlet Knights were 7-for-26 from the floor (26.9 percent) and still led 20-19 at the break.
Arinze Onuaku's follow to start the second period put Syracuse ahead 21-20 and the Orange never relinquished the lead.
"Three games in a row we've played tough defense," Harris said. "That's what you want to do at this point of the season."
After Hamady Ndiaye's follow moved Rutgers within 29-28 with 15:32 left, Onuaku hit a hook in the lane and Rautins followed with a 3 from left wing, his first basket of the game, to give the Orange a 34-28 lead.
Less than a minute later, Jonny Flynn hit a 3 from the right corner and Rautins added two more in a 49-second span to boost the lead to 43-28 at 11:27 as the Orange got their running game in gear and ran away with the game. Syracuse had 18 fast-break points in the second half thanks in large part to Flynn, who had seven assists in the period and 10 for the game.
"When they got going and started to get out and run, it just snowballed," Hill said. "It's something that you can't stop."
Rutgers shot 25.4 percent for the game and went 4-for-24 from beyond the arc. Syracuse outscored the Scarlet Knights 51-20 in the second half despite only three points from Flynn and none from Devendorf, the team's top two scorers. Devendorf, averaging nearly 16 points, was 1-for-8 in the game, all 3s. Flynn finished with seven points.
"That was as bad a shooting night as I've seen in years," said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who coached his 1,079th game to move into 12th place on the all-time Division I list. "That was coming off two easy games when everything goes right. When it doesn't go right, you start thinking about it. The significant thing for me, Jonny and Eric, those two guys got 10 points and for us to win by 30."
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