NEW YORK (WBNG BINGHAMTON) No. 2/3 Syracuse outscored St. John's 10-3 over the final 4:40 and escaped Madison Square Garden with a 66-61 victory on Sunday, Dec. 15 to remain undefeated.
The Orange improves to 10-0 for the fifth straight year and has won the last nine meetings, and 15 of the last 16 with the Red Storm (6-3). Overall, SU owns a 51-37 advantage in the series. The win also marked head coach Jim Boeheim's 75th career triumph at Madison Square Garden.
St. John's took a 60-58 lead with 5:48 remaining in the game on a layup by Orlando Sanchez, but the Red Storm wouldn't make another basket as freshman Tyler Ennis and senior C.J. Fair combined to score all of SU's 10 points in the final run to help Syracuse pull away.
Ennis and Fair tied for game-high scoring honors with 21 points apiece. Ennis dished out four assists and was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line while Fair also corralled six rebounds. Sophomore Jerami Grant, who added 14 points and six boards off the bench, along with Ennis and Fair totaled 56 of SU's 68 points.
For the fourth time this season the Orange shot over 50-percent, finishing at 52.2-percent (24-46). They also held St. John's to just 5.9-percent from beyond the arc (1-17), an opponent-low this season.
Syracuse never trailed in the first half, allowing St. John's to tie the score just three times in the opening three minutes. With SU holding onto a narrow 14-13 margin, an Ennis three followed by four straight from junior Rakeem Christmas extended the Orange advantage to 21-13 with 9:05 to go.
A 12-4 spurt had Syracuse in front at 33-21, capped by a monster slam from Grant. Ennis made all six of his free throw attempts in the final 81 seconds of the opening half to send Syracuse into the locker room ahead, 39-27.
Early in the second half, the Red Storm recorded 12 of 16 points to close the gap to 48-44 behind six points from Jakarr Sampson. Grant halted the run with a three-point play only to see St. John's use a 9-2 stretch that tied the score at 53-53 with 9:16 to play after Rysheed Jordan converted three straight free throws.
Grant made one at the line to put SU back on top, but a jumper from D'Angelo Harrison gave St. John's its first lead of the contest at 55-54. Syracuse went right back in front on a layup from Grant. However, three more free throws had the Red Storm with its largest edge at 58-56 with 7:20 remaining. Ennis' layup in the midst of the Orange's final run put SU ahead for good at 62-60 with 4:11 on the clock.
Harrison scored 21 points to lead three Red Storm players in double-digit scoring. Jordan contributed 13 and Sampson added 12. All three players finished with six rebounds.
Syracuse returns to the Carrier Dome for its first ever meeting with High Point on Friday, Dec. 20 at 7 p.m.