|Syracuse guard Brandon Triche (20) puts up a shot as St. John's Phil Greene defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, at New York's Madison Square Garden. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)|
No. 2 Syracuse crushes St. John's 95-70
NEW YORK—Fab Melo scored a career-high 14 points in his return after a three-game absence and Jim Boeheim tied Dean Smith for third place on the victory list with win No. 879 as No. 2 Syracuse dominated St. John's 95-70 on Saturday.
Syracuse (23-1, 10-1 Big East) rallied behind the return of the 7-foot Melo, taking a 41-27 halftime lead and blowing it open by starting the second half on a 16-3 run in front of a sellout crowd of 19,979 at Madison Square Garden, most of whom were wearing orange.
Melo missed the last three games as he resolved an academic issue. He had been allowed to practice with the team and he looked ready from the start of his first game back, once again a force in the middle on the back line of the 2-3 zone.
Dion Waiters and C.J. Fair both had 14 points for the Orange, whose only loss this season was at Notre Dame in the first game of the three Melo missed. Kris Joseph and Michael Carter-Williams had 13 points each for Syracuse, which shot 55.7 percent (39 for 70) from the field.
After tying Smith, the longtime coach at North Carolina, Boeheim trails only fellow Hall of Famers Mike Krzyzewski (919) and Bob Knight (902) on the career wins list.
Boeheim and Syracuse have continued to win despite a tumultuous stretch for the program. Bernie Fine, his assistant for more than 35 years, was fired three games into the season after two former ball boys accused him of sexually molesting them when they were young.
It was the Orange's seventh straight win over the Red Storm and the 13th in their last 14 meetings.
D'Angelo Harrison had 23 points for the Red Storm (10-13, 4-7), who dropped to 0-9 this season against ranked teams. They had four wins last season over top-10 teams. Moe Harkless added 15 points and Phil Greene had 14.
Melo started the run to open the second half with a basket and added a dunk and two free throws as the Orange took a 57-30 lead with 14:31 to play.
Carter-Williams had a breakaway dunk, and after a turnover by St. John's, Waiters had another breakaway jam. As the Red Storm called a 30-second timeout with 9:16 left, the Orange players were all raising their arms, encouraging the crowd to raise the noise level. They did.
It would have been the fourth straight game St. John's started five freshmen -- the "Fresh Five" -- but Harrison didn't start because he was late for the team bus. He was in the game within the first 3 minutes.
Harrison had a career-high 29 points against DePaul in the Red Storm's previous game.
It was St. John's worst loss of the season. Georgetown beat the Red Storm 69-49 last month, also at Madison Square Garden. St. John's dropped to 2-6 at Madison Square Garden this season.