SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP)—Colgate took care of Demetris Nichols for one half. That wasn’t nearly enough.
Nichols matched his career high with 28 points, hitting a school-record six straight 3-pointers in the second half, and No. 21 Syracuse beat Colgate 79-52 on Saturday night.
It was the 41st straight win in the series for Syracuse, the longest active mark in Division I.
Syracuse (8-2), coming off consecutive losses to ranked teams, struggled defensively in the first half as the Raiders (4-4) shot 40 percent and trailed only 35-30.
Nichols, who had just four points in the opening 20 minutes, took control after a vocal halftime address by coach Jim Boeheim.
“Coach really got on us,” said Nichols, who has scored 20 or more points in five of the last six games. “We needed a boost because the first half we looked pretty dead. I just wanted to come out aggressive, play real hard. Coach expects me to make big plays.”
He did, and in a flurry. The 6-foot-8 Nichols, as tall as any Colgate starter, scored 11 points in a span of less than three minutes. His 3 from left wing giving the Orange a 69-43 lead midway through the second half.
“He was playing like a possessed man,” said Terrence Roberts, who had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Orange. “I saw that look in his eyes.”
So did the Raiders.
“For about five or six minutes, he was just making everything,” said Kyle Chones, who finished with a career-high 18 points to lead the Raiders. “We tried to cover him with screens and stuff, but he was just shooting over our guys.”
“Nichols, at his size, was making some really tough, tough shots,” Colgate coach Emmett Davis said. “He was guarded. It wasn’t like we weren’t guarding him.”
Syracuse finished 13-for-21 on 3-pointers, while the Raiders were just 2-for-16, the second one coming in the final minute of the game.
Andy Rautins matched his career high with 13 points for the Orange. Eric Devendorf, who had two straight subpar games while suffering from a stomach virus, finished with eight in only 13 minutes, and freshman Paul Harris had but two points in the first start of his career.
Alex Woodhouse had nine points for Colgate. Kendall Chones, who was averaging 10.9 points, finished with one, while Jon Simon, averaging 14.3 points, was held to five points on 2-for-11 shooting while guarded mostly by Josh Wright.
“Josh Wright did a great job of defending Jon Simon. That was one of the keys to the game,” Davis said. “He just couldn’t get loose for a shot.”
Colgate missed its first seven shots of the second half and did not get a basket until Kyle Chones converted a three-point play at 14:03.
“It’s always tough coming back (after two losses),” Boeheim said. “We couldn’t get going defensively. We shot the ball well the first half, but defensively didn’t do a good job.
“We started out the second half and got our defense going, we screened better and got Demetris open,” Boeheim said. “He got all good shots, all balanced shots, and when he gets those, he’s going to make them. He may not make as many as he did tonight, but he’s going to make shots.”
Syracuse continued to struggle on the boards. The Orange outrebounded the smaller Raiders by only one, but were decisively beaten 20-12 on the offensive glass and outscored 34-26 in the paint.
“Our big guys have got to do a better job inside. I guess talking ain’t working,” Boeheim said. “It’s disappointing. We need these next three weeks (before Big East play begins). I think we can get better.”