PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP)—Jim Boeheim didn’t become the eighth-winningest Division I coach of all-time without dispensing some great advice to his team.
On Saturday night, it was simple and aimed at one player and it helped No. 11 Syracuse take control on the way its seventh straight victory, 82-66 over Rutgers.
“At halftime Coach told me to take over the game and I did,” sophomore point guard Jonny Flynn said.
Flynn scored 10 of his 15 points, including a monster dunk over freshman Michael Rosario, in the second half as well as handing out four of his nine assists. And he did all that without committing a turnover in playing all 40 minutes.
“One area where we’ve had problems is turning it over and we didn’t tonight,” Boeheim said, referring to the eight Orange turnovers, half their season average.
Paul Harris scored 26 points, Arinze Onuaku added 19 and Eric Devendorf had 15 for the Orange (16-1, 4-0 Big East), who beat Rutgers for the eighth straight time.
“Once we get him the ball we know we’re going to score,” Harris said of Flynn. “We just got him the ball in the second half and what happened is his second nature.”
Anthony Farmer had 17 points and Rosario added 15 for the Scarlet Knights (9-8, 0-4), who lost their fifth straight, all to ranked teams.
Syracuse took the lead for good late in the first half and was able to pull away behind Flynn and Harris, whose speed caused problems for Rutgers.
Rutgers was within 52-48 when Flynn took off on a drive to the basket and emphatically dunked over the 6-3 Rosario. Flynn stood over the freshman for a second while he was on the floor and looked at the Rutgers student section.
“I wanted to make a play that the team could feed off,” Flynn said. “Whatever way it was called it was going to get us started regardless.”
Rutgers coach Fred Hill called a timeout to complain about the lack of a call for either a charge or a technical for taunting and he was called for a technical.
“I was just trying to make a big play and take a charge,” Rosario said. “I thought it should have been a charge, but he’s a great player as you can see.”
Devendorf made one of the free throws on the technical and after a Rutgers turnover, Devendorf scored on a drive to make it 57-48 with 12:01 to play.
Flynn was just getting started in helping the Orange expand the lead. He scored on a nice spin move and was fouled but missed the free throw, still giving Syracuse a 63-53 lead. His short jumper with 8:06 left made it 67-57 and his drop pass to Harris on the break 31 seconds later gave Syracuse its largest lead to that point.
Flynn quickly became the target of boos and derisive cheers from the Rutgers crowd but he seemed to thrive on it and the Orange led by at least 10 points the rest of the way.
“That dunk got everyone excited but it was just two points to me,” the always stoic Boeheim said. “He made some really good plays, some great passes, great decisions and no turnovers.”
Rosario, the third-leading freshman scorer in the nation with a 17.6 average, had just two points in the second half on 1-for-11 shooting, 1-of-8 from 3-point range. He finished 6-for-22 overall, 3-of-15 on 3s.
“They were shading toward me in the zone a little more,” Rosario said of the difference in how Syracuse guarded him in the second half.
Hill said the Scarlet Knights’ 5-for-24 effort from 3-point range was a key factor.
“We limited their 3s which was part of the game plan but we couldn’t knock down shots we should have made,” he said. “When we missed shots it gave them a chance to rebound and get runouts and easy baskets.”
The win was the 787th for Boeheim, breaking a tie for eighth place on the all-time list with Lefty Driesell. Boeheim is one win behind Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun.
Nine of the Orange’s next 10 games are against teams in this week’s Top 25.
“It just doesn’t matter who you play it’s all difficult,” Boeheim said. “There are so many teams that are really, really good, not just pretty good but really, really good.”
Rutgers’ run against ranked team started against then-No. 1 North Carolina and included Big East games against Pittsburgh, Connecticut and Marquette.
Four of the Scarlet Knights’ next five games are against unranked teams.
“We’ll keep working hard and I’ll push this team to the end,” Rosario said.