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January 2, 2013
Orange open up Big East play
Syracuse's Jim Boeheim is getting ready for his first chance to pass Bob Knight for second place on the all-time Division I wins list.
He's not the only coach that will be in the spotlight at the Carrier Dome since Rutgers' Mike Rice is back for his first game following an ignominious suspension.
The No. 7 Orange should be in good shape to earn this historic victory for Boeheim since they have won a school-record 32 straight at home along with 12 in a row overall against the Scarlet Knights heading into Wednesday night's Big East opener for both teams.
Boeheim tied Knight with victory No. 902 as Syracuse (12-1) cruised to a 96-62 rout of Central Connecticut State on Monday. The Orange coach's total represents the most of anyone at one school.
With one day to prepare for the start of conference play, Boeheim is focused on ending Rutgers' five-game win streak.
"We're looking forward to starting the Big East with Rutgers," Boeheim said. "They're off to a great start and we're looking forward to that challenge."
Trying to prevent Boeheim from making history will be Rice, who was suspended the last three games without pay and fined $50,000 for a violation of department policy. Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti said the suspension was a result of inappropriate behavior and language, not NCAA violations.
Rice held a walk-through session with the Scarlet Knights (9-2) on Saturday in his first work with the team since the ban. The third-year coach has apologized to his team and the school for his behavior.
"I may not be perfect, but I know I'm going to change and improve," Rice said. "I brought this on myself. For 21 years, I've asked my players to change and improve. Now I have this opportunity to do that myself."
Rutgers won 68-56 over Rider on Friday to finish 3-0 without Rice, who won't be returning in the ideal place with the Orange enjoying the nation's longest home winning streak. The Scarlet Knights have dropped their last 15 visits to Syracuse, where they are 1-22 all-time.
Both teams feature strong perimeter play.
Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams leads the nation with 10.2 assists per game, and he just missed a triple-double with 18 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds Monday.
Carter-Williams is complemented in the backcourt by Brandon Triche, who is averaging a team-high 13.8 points for a Syracuse squad that leads the Big East with 82.0 points per game.
Rutgers features a three-guard lineup with sophomores Eli Carter and Myles Mack doing most of the damage. Carter averages 16.9 points while Mack is averaging 14.5 and shooting 58.9 percent for the conference's second-best mark.
"They have two good guards and I know they attack the glass so we need to make sure we know what to do and do it," Orange forward James Southerland said.
C.J. Fair scored 21 points to lead Syracuse as it closed on a 10-2 run in a 74-64 win at Rutgers on Feb. 19 in the lone meeting last season. Carter and Mack combined for 15 points on 6-of-20 shooting.
The Orange's last loss in this series was 68-65 on the road Jan. 29, 2003.