SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- A week of hype came to a head on Saturday inside the Carrier Dome as top-10 foes, and old Big East Rivals, #2 Syracuse and #8 Villanova met for the first time as non-conference opponents. The Wildcats struck first, hitting their first four attempts from beyond the arc, and extending to an early 25-7 lead.
But much like a classic heavyweight fight, Syracuse countered with a few blows of their own. Trevor Cooney and C.J. Fair scored the next 14 points as part of a 20-0 Orange run that gave Syracuse the lead for the first time.
"We finally got our offense going," head coach Jim Boeheim said. "We got Trevor a couple good looks and C.J. some good looks. Then our defense started to pick up and we didn't give them any looks."
Just when Syracuse appeared to be pulling away, Villanova struck back with a JayVaughn Pinkston off balance three to cut the Syracuse lead to just four at the half.
The Orange picked things up where they left off in the second half, scoring nine of the half's first 11 points. Villanova continued to fight back, but Syracuse was ready. When James Bell, who finished with a game-high 25 points for the Wildcats, hit a three to bring ‘Nova within 56-53 at the seven minute mark, Syracuse responded with a 6-1 run to push the lead back to eight.
Syracuse would cruise from there as they extend their non-conference home winning streak to 50-games with a 78-62 win.
Tyler Ennis and Trevor Cooney were key factors for the Orange.
"I think our backcourt has played well year," Boeheim said. "I thought they played really tremendous today. Tyler made some drives when we were really stuck…He gets to the basket better than most. I thought Trevor and Tyler were the difference today. They were tremendous."
Cooney and Ennis combined for 41-points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals on the night. Cooney drilled five of his eight three point attempts and all six of his shots from the charity stripe. Ennis was 8-11 from the foul line.
Senior C.J. Fair hit some big shots as well, finishing with 17 points and six rebounds Jerami Grant came off the bench with 11 points and six boards of his own.
Despite the hot start, the Syracuse zone held Villanova to 38% shooting from the floor, and just 10-31 from beyond the arc. The Orange also forced 14 Wildcat turnovers.
The win pushes Syracuse to 12-0 on the season. They next face Eastern Michigan on December 31st at 3:00pm.