PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -Andy Rautins had his best game of the season and No. 5 Syracuse played its 2-3 zone about as well as it can.
Jim Boeheim still wasn't overly thrilled after the Orange posted an 81-65 win over Rutgers on Wednesday night.
His big guys were allowing opposing guards to make layups. His team had trouble holding a 23-point lead and what concerned Boeheim the most at the start of the three-game road trip is what's on tap next - a game at No. 10 West Virginia on Saturday.
``It's tough to win any game,' Boeheim said. ``We had a little lapse offensively and that's what happens you get go on the road. You get on the road and you can be up 20, and it's illusionary, because if you can make 3s, two or three, and we make a couple of mistakes and it's an 11-point game and it's anybody's game.'
Rautins was the difference for Syracuse (16-1, 3-1 Big East). He had a season-high 23 points, nine assists and eight rebounds as the Orange posted their 10th straight win over Rutgers (9-7, 0-4).
``I thought Andy was aggressive tonight,' Boeheim said. ``He was very aggressive against the zone, shooting 3s in transition. He made a lot of plays. He had a big game.'
Wes Johnson added 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Brandon Triche and Scoop Jardine added 12 points apiece.
``Even though we won, we're still not happy with the way we are playing,' Rautins said. ``We're not where we need to be yet, which is a good thing.'
Mike Rosario, who missed his first eight shots, led the Scarlet Knights with 17 points. Dane Miller had 15 points in his first career start.
The game was ugly and Boeheim frequently pulled players off the court after bad shots and turnovers, particularly his big men - Rick Jackson, Arinze Onuaku and Kris Joseph.
``There wasn't much to be happy about,' Boeheim said of his big men. ``Six-foot guys are making layups against you, you have a problem.'
Rautins made up for them. He was 7 of 14 from the field, had 11 points early to get the Orange off to a quick start and dominated on both ends of the court, getting all five of his steals in the first half.
``We had 18 turnovers as a team and we have to clean that up before we go to Morgantown,' Rautins said. ``It's always a good thing when you come out with a win at the RAC, it's a tough place to play and we made plays down the stretch.'
Mookie Jones came off the bench and scored 8 of his 11 points in a 24-10 run in the final 12 minutes of the first half that gave Syracuse a 41-23 halftime lead. The Orange, who forced 23 turnovers with their 2-3 zone, increased the margin to 23 points early in the second half on a layup by Arinze Onuaku and appeared ready to blow the game open.
That's when Rosario and Miller combined on a 20-5 spurt that got the Scarlet Knights within 53-45.
Rosario scored 14 points, hitting three 3-pointers, while Miller got Rutgers within 53-45 with a basket on a goaltending call.
Rautins then hit a jumper and Jardine hit 6 of 8 free throws and made a layup to build the lead to 63-48 with 10:21 to play.
Rutgers managed to get to within nine points twice, but Johnson scored on a one-handed slam and then hit two free throws to end the threat.
Rutgers coach Fred Hill, who was booed by some in the home crowd before the game, blamed the loss on turnovers and the lull midway through the first half.
``We are not quite there yet,' said Hill, who still believes he can turn the program around in his fourth season.
Rosario said the players need to come together on the court and play as one.
``It just feels like we have to prove to people that we're not as bad as people think,' Rosario said. ``A lot of people think of us as, 'Rutgers, their past records have been bad.' But this year is a different team, new faces, and we can't do anything else but to show the fans and show everyone in the Big East that we're a school that plays hard to the end and never gives up.'
Rutgers did that against Syracuse, but it still wasn't enough.'
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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