SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Fab Melo had 12 points and 10 blocks, both career-highs, and No. 1 Syracuse stifled Seton Hall at every turn in a 75-49 victory Wednesday night in the Big East opener for both teams.
Syracuse (14-0, 1-0) gained control with a staunch defensive performance in the opening half in building a 34-15 lead.
Melo, who had his first career double-double, pulled in seven rebounds.
Dion Waiters had 15 points and Brandon Triche added 11 for Syracuse, which won easily despite a subpar performance from leading scorer Kris Joseph, who missed all six of his shots and did not score. He did have four steals and four assists.
The victory was the 870th of Jim Boeheim’s career, putting him within six of fourth-place Adolph Rupp of Kentucky and nine of third-place North Carolina’s Dean Smith on the Division I list.
Jordan Theodore had 14 points for Seton Hall (11-2, 0-1), which had an eight-game winning streak snapped. Herb Pope, fourth in the nation in scoring at 20.3 points per game, had only four points and nine rebounds.
Last January, Jeremy Hazell led a long-range Seton Hall barrage with 28 points and the hot-shooting Pirates stunned ninth-ranked Syracuse 90-68. Seton Hall had seven 3s in in building a 13-point halftime lead.
The tables were turned this time.
With Hazell gone, Pope is the focus of the Pirates’ attack. He has eight double-doubles, tops in the nation, and had only failed to reach double figures in scoring once, in the Pirates’ win at Longwood on Friday night when he finished with eight in 29 minutes.
On Wednesday, the Syracuse defense clamped down on the big guy, who was 2 of 9 shooting and committed six of Seton Hall’s 23 turnovers. The Orange finished with 17 steals.
Syracuse leads the nation with 11.2 steals per game and a turnover margin of 8.6, and the Orange’s penchant for creating mistakes was on full display in the first half. Seton Hall committed 15 turnovers and Pope led the way with five, scoring just two points on a driving dunk and missing the other five shots he attempted.
Melo closed the first half with a stunning block of Pope under the basket at the buzzer. It was his eighth block of the half and he did it to Pope again early in the second after scoring two straight baskets. Melo converted a miss by Triche and scored off a nice feed underneath from Joseph to boost the lead to 42-20 with 16:19 left.
A 3-pointer by Scoop Jardine boosted the lead to 50-26 at 13:35.
The Pirates missed their first six shots and Syracuse gained a 6-1 lead when Triche followed his own miss and fed Melo for a dunk.
Consecutive baskets by Waiters, the second a steal and dunk, boosted the lead to 12-3 as the Orange began to steadily pull away. When Theodore hit a 3 from the left wing at 8:05, he had 10 of Seton Hall’s 12 points.
Syracuse finished with 15 blocks, five off the school record set Jan. 11, 1992, against Miami.
NO. 2 OHIO STATE 87,
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Northwestern is known for its precise, patterned offense and sticky defense.
Both were abandoned against No. 2 Ohio State on Wednesday night.
William Buford had career-highs of 28 points and five 3-pointers as the Buckeyes showed their marksmanship outside while dominating inside in a lopsided victory in the Big Ten opener for both teams.
“I was very disappointed in (our play at) both ends of the court,” Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said after his team’s 31st consecutive loss in Columbus, dating to 1977. “I knew it would be tough defensively, because they have a good number of guys who can score inside and out. I just thought we’d be able to get better shots than we did. But they had something to do with that.”
The conference’s top two scorers, Northwestern’s John Shurna and Drew Crawford, had miserable games. They were held to 11 and 13 points, respectively, on a combined 9-for-30 shooting.
Freshman point guard Dave Sobolewski had 10 points and five assists in 38 minutes for the Wildcats (10-3, 0-1).
Ohio State (13-1, 1-0) came in next-to-last in the conference in 3-pointers at 4.8 per game, but hit seven in the first half to build a big lead and finished 10 for 20 from long range.
“We were saving it,” Ohio Statecoach Thad Matta cracked.
The Buckeyes had their way inside as well.
Jared Sullinger added 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Buckeyes, who dominated the boards 49-30.
Deshaun Thomas had 16 points for Ohio State, which broke the game open with a 13-0 first-half run fueled by 3-pointers. Jordan Sibert added 12 points, all on 3s.
NO. 12 GEORGETOWN 71,
NO. 4 LOUISVILLE 68
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Markel Starks scored 16 of his career-high 20 points in the second half and No. 12 Georgetown snapped No. 4 Louisville’s 20-game home winning streak with a narrow win Wednesday night in the Big East opener for both teams.
Louisville (12-1, 0-1) had been one of six Division I teams that came into play Wednesday without a loss. The Cardinals held a tenuous lead through most of the first half and early into the second.
But Starks, a sophomore, hit all four of his 3-point attempts in the second half and went 7 for 8 from the field as Georgetown (11-1, 1-0) built an 11-point lead before having to survive a rally to win for the ninth consecutive time.
Georgetown freshman Otto Porter had 14 points and 14 rebounds, including two key ones late that helped fend off the Cardinals.
Kyle Kuric finished with 17 points and Peyton Siva had 15 for Louisville.
Georgetown, picked to finish 10th in the Big East, hasn’t lost since falling to Kansas on Nov. 21. This was their grittiest effort yet, coming from behind to build a big lead and then held on when Louisville rallied late in front of a raucous crowd.
Trailing 63-52, the Cardinals went on an 11-0 run sparked when Russ Smith hit a 3 in the corner and Siva made two key plays, including hitting a floater off the glass before Gorgui Dieng scored down low to tie the score with 2:01 left.
Porter followed up a miss by Henry Sims with a layup, then grabbed a defensive rebound on the other end that led to two free throws by Sims that made it 67-63 with 1:12 left. Porter added two free throws to push the margin to six before Smith hit a 3-pointer to cut it to 69-66 with 21 seconds left.
But Porter hit two more free throws to seal it.