HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - There are games a team needs to win. There are games teams have to win.
Syracuse won a game it had to win.
Rick Jackson had 13 points and 13 rebounds to lead the 17th-ranked Orange to a 66-58 victory over No. 6 Connecticut on Wednesday night, avoiding the first five-game losing streak in coach Jim Boeheim's 35 seasons.
``This was a game we had to find a way to win,' Boeheim said. ``We made the plays we had to. We played well but we also played well at Marquette. That's the league. You have to do that every night. This league is very, very difficult.'
Brandon Triche had 16 points for the Orange (19-4, 6-4 Big East), who had lost four straight games under Boeheim three times before this streak.
The last win they had was a 67-52 home victory over Cincinnati on Jan. 15.
That was followed by a loss at Pittsburgh and one at home to Villanova - like Connecticut top 10 teams - an embarrassing home loss to Seton Hall and the 76-70 loss at Marquette.
``Sixteen days is a long time without winning and just to have that feeling again is remarkable,' Triche said.
Jackson, who entered the game leading the Big East in rebounding (11.5) and field goal percentage (58.3), felt the same way Triche did after going 6 of 11 from the field against the Huskies.
``We didn't win for two weeks, that's a stretch,' Jackson said. ``All of us just wanted to come down here and just play solid defense and just execute and we did a good job of that tonight.'
Freshman Jeremy Lamb had 22 points - his third straight 20-plus game - to lead the Huskies (17-4, 5-4), who have lost two straight - both at home - since a six-game winning streak.
``Everybody is going to determine their own fate,' Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. ``We got off to a terrific start and we've hit a snag in the road and we have nine games to get ourselves in position. We have to win our share. The game was there for us.'
The game featured the most wins ever in Division I between two coaches. Boeheim came in with 847, seven more than fellow Hall of Famer Calhoun.
The 1,687 total bettered the mark of 1,665 set by Texas Tech's Bob Knight and Oklahoma State's Eddie Sutton on Feb. 25, 2006.
This was Syracuse's first win at either of Connecticut's home courts since 1999, a stretch of seven games.
``We did a lot of dumb things,' Calhoun said. ``It was a lack of mental effort more than physical effort.'
Connecticut's Kemba Walker, the nation's third-leading scorer at 24.2 points per game, finished with a season-low eight on 3-for-14 shooting, including making one of six 3-point attempts.
``I was just off. I just can't make a shot. It happens. It happens to the best players in the world. I just have to get through it,' said Walker, who is 27 of 88 from the field (30.6 percent) over his last five games. ``Tonight, I definitely didn't get any good shots. They did a great job taking away my opportunities.'
Syracuse took its first lead on Jackson's hook shot at the halftime buzzer that made it 26-25. The Huskies would never get it back, although they did get close three times in the final 5 minutes and each time Syracuse had an answer.
A follow shot by Charles Okwandu brought Connecticut within 53-52 with 4:56 left, but Triche hit a 3 28 seconds later to make it a 4-point game. Alex Oriakhi made two free throws with 3:10 to go to bring the Huskies within 56-54 but Kris Joseph had his own 5-point run to give the Orange a 7-point lead with 1:21 left.
The last time Connecticut got close was on Lamb's floater after a steal that made it 61-58 with 51 seconds left. Scoop Jardine made three of four free throws and Jackson scored on a tip-in with 14 seconds left for the final margin.
Jardine finished with seven points and six assists but he was just 2 of 11 from the field.
The Orange outrebounded the Huskies 45-39, including turning 19 offensive rebounds into 19 points, and they finished with a 40-22 advantage in the paint.
``They usually get us on the boards,' Boeheim said. ``Our bigger guys did a good job for us.'
The loss dropped the Huskies to 11-2 at home this season and was their first loss in eight games at XL Center.
``We have nine games left to get us in the postseason,' Calhoun said. ``I told the kids before the game we had 400 minutes of opportunity. We didn't take advantage. I told them I really don't like to see the other smiling when we shake hands after the game.'
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved