PISCATAWAY, N.J. — There’s no list on any bulletin board designating which Syracuse player should be the one to make the big play.
The second-ranked Orange seem to be very comfortable with their depth and lack of star power, and they looked that way in a 74-64 victory over Rutgers on Sunday.
It was the third close game for Syracuse (27-1, 14-1 Big East) in the last four, but they have all been wins, and this one made it seven straight since the only loss of the season — at Notre Dame.
“This team’s made plays when games have been close late,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “Veteran guys make plays. Everybody’s said all along, ‘OK who’s going to make plays?’ We’ve got a lot of guys who makes plays. I think that’s going to be a good thing. It has been a good thing for us, and that’s why where we’re at — different guys can make plays.”
C.J. Fair scored a career-high 21 points, and Scoop Jardine added 17, including a dagger 3-pointer with 1:11 to play.
Jardine sat in front of his locker with a smile as he answered questions about the big shot, the one that made him the guy who made the big play.
“I’ve done that a couple of times in my career,” he said with a wink. “It’s doing what you know you should. I was driving all game, so he was backing off me, and I got some space and had the confidence to knock it in.”
Fair had no problem with Jardine, who had seven assists, drawing the postgame attention.
“He made a couple of big shots,” Fair said. “We really executed today.”
Gilvydas Biruta matched his career high with 21 points for Rutgers (12-15, 4-10).AROUND THE NATION
DUKE CRUISES – At Boston, Seth Curry scored 18 points, and No. 5 Duke used a smothering defense to roll to a 75-50 victory over Boston College (8-19, 3-10 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Duke (23-4, 10-2) pulled into a tie for the conference lead with North Carolina and Florida State.
SPARTANS WIN ON ROAD — At West Lafayette, Ind., Draymond Green had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Austin Thornton scored a career-high 17 points to lead No. 7 Michigan State past short-handed Purdue, 76-72.
The Spartans (22-5, 11-3 Big Ten) took a one-game lead in the conference title chase.
Robbie Hummel scored 24 points for Purdue (17-10, 7-7), which played without starting guard Kelsey Barlow and swingman D.J. Byrd. Both were disciplined after a Friday night incident outside a local bar.
INDIANA STUMBLES — At Iowa City, Iowa, Matt Gaten scored a career-high 30 points, and Iowa (14-13, 6-8 Big Ten) beat No. 18 Indiana (20-7, 8-7) 78-66, snapping the Hoosiers’ three-game winning streak.