Syracuse Squeaks by Rutgers

Hakim Warrick's tenth double-double of the season helped guide Syracuse (15-5, 5-4) to a hard-fought victory over Rutgers (13-8, 5-6) Tuesday night, 63-61. But, once again, the big story of the game was the absence of Billy Edelin.

Edelin was not even in attendance at Tuesday's game. SU coach Jim Boeheim and his players refused to talk about the issue. Boeheim said the school will most likely issue a statement tomorrow about Edelin. But he preferred to focus on the game.

"I coach the players that are out there. That's all I can do."

As for the game, Warrick scored 16 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Orangemen in both categories.

Three others scored in double figures for Syracuse. Josh Pace scored 12 points, with eight coming in the first half. Center Craig Forth also scored 12 points to go along with his nine rebounds. And Gerry McNamara, despite shooting just 3-of-12 from the field, scored ten points and dished out five assists.

The win for the Orangemen was not an easy one, though. Rutgers made it close throughout. Senior forward Herve Lamizana put the Scarlet Knights up by two with just over 12 minutes to play. They were able to extend the lead to four, 46-42, on a Ricky Shields three-pointer at the ten-minute mark.

But SU was able to claw back after that. A dunk by Warrick, followed by a drop-step layup for Jeremy McNeil and a Josh Pace putback put the Orangemen up, 48-46. The lead never ballooned past five points for either team in the last 18 minutes of the game. But Syracuse sealed the game with strong rebounding and two free throws at the end by Warrick.

"We definitely didn't play our best basketball tonight," said Warrick. "We just kept battling."

Rutgers had an awful shooting night. Their leading scorer was Ricky Shields. He scored 20 points to lead all scorers, but he was just 7-for-23 from the field. The Scarlet Knights shot just 29-percent for the game.

"They shoot a lot better at home than they do on the road," said Boeheim. "But that's true of a lot of teams."

Syracuse, with the win, moved from eighth place in the Big East to sixth place. The Orangemen next travel to Miami Saturday to take on the Hurricanes at 2 p.m.

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