SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP)—When his Syracuse teammates repeatedly found him wide open against Coppin State, Andy Rautins had a night he’ll never forget.
Rautins equaled a school record with nine 3-pointers and scored a career-high 29 points to lead the 17th-ranked Orange to an 82-71 victory Monday night.
Rautins, starting for the second straight game in place of suspended guard Eric Devendorf, tied Gerry McNamara’s school record, set against BYU in the NCAA tournament in 2004.
“They played a pretty passive zone defense, and they were leaving me open,” said Rautins, who was 9-of-16 from beyond the arc. “They did a great job of finding me, getting into the lane and kicking it back out.”
Coppin State (1-8) fell behind by double digits three times and each time rallied to keep the game close. But after Tywain McKee’s steal and layup and two free throws by Lenny Young whittled Syracuse’s 11-point lead to 61-57 with 8:35 left, Rautins took charge.
He fed Paul Harris for a driving layup along the baseline and followed with three 3-pointers in a 2-minute span to give the Orange a 72-59 lead with 5:38 left.
“They were supposed to find him,” Coppin State coach Ron Mitchell said of Rautins. “They didn’t find him early, they found him in the middle, and they didn’t find him late. That’s the equivalent of losing.”
It was the fifth game in nine days and final nonconference game for the Orange (12-1), who begin Big East play at home in a week against Seton Hall.
“This schedule wasn’t very good,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “You just can’t play five games like this and go through finals. Trying to come back after that win on Saturday (at Memphis) and play with energy, we just didn’t have defensive intensity.”
“We should have put this team away pretty early tonight,” Rautins said.
The Orange didn’t mainly because of McKee, who had a season-high 31 points and led the Eagles with nine rebounds, six steals and five assists.
“He is so steady for us,” Mitchell said. “He’s our leader. That was an incredible performance.”
Rautins, a career 35 percent shooter from long range entering the season, was 24-for-78 (30.8 percent) from there before Monday. But Boeheim was quick to put Monday night’s performance in perspective.
“We got great shots for Andy. He hasn’t been getting those shots,” Boeheim said. “When we can get him those shots, he’s going to make those shots. He’s a 50 percent shooter if he gets those kind of looks from the 3. He’s never going to get those shots (in the Big East), ever.”
Jonny Flynn had 10 points and 10 assists for his third career double-double for Syracuse, while Harris had 15 points and nine rebounds, Arinze Onuaku 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Rick Jackson 10 points and six rebounds.
Jordan Lee had 12 points and Lenny Young added 10 for Coppin State.
Rautins was rarely contested when he shot as the Eagles worried about Syracuse’s big men inside. Onuaku and Jackson combined to shoot 11-of-15.
Rautins, who had six assists, hit five 3-pointers in the first half to keep the Orange in front. After McKee’s steal and layup pulled Coppin State within 28-26 with 6:13 left, Rautins hit consecutive 3s from the top of the key for an eight-point lead.
The Eagles then rallied behind consecutive 3s by McKee to make it 37-32 before Rautins fed Jackson for a layup. Flynn followed with two free throws and fed Harris for a layup, and Harris converted a three-point play at the buzzer.
Syracuse outscored Coppin State 18-8 over the final 6:13 to take a 46-34 halftime lead.