SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Junior forward C.J. Fair scored a game-high 22 points, including 11 during a six-minute span of the second half, and #7/7 Syracuse (16-1, 4-0) defeated Villanova (11-5, 2-1), 72-61, in front of college basketball's largest crowd of the season in the Carrier Dome.
A gathering of 27,586 watched Syracuse extend its home-court winning streak to 34 games – the longest, active span in Division I.
For the second straight contest, Syracuse found itself behind at the break, this time by a 29-27 count. Villanova tacked on two free throws to its margin in the first minute of the second half, and then Fair asserted himself. A layup and 3-pointer by Fair pushed Syracuse back ahead, 32-31.
The Wildcats managed to tie the contest at 34-34 but Fair answered with two jumpers and two free throws to put the Orange ahead for good at 40-34 with 13:46 left.
Villanova shaved the deficit to one at 44-43, and down to four at 51-47 with 8:02 remaining. Freshman forward Jerami Grant, who finished with a career-best 13 points, contributed a layup, Fair canned a jumper and redshirt freshman guard Trevor Cooney tossed in consecutive 3-pointers in a 10-0 run that put the game out of reach.
Both teams struggled at the offensive end in the early going. Nine minutes into the event, the game was knotted at 8-8. The contest was tied five more times in the first 20 minutes before the club's headed into the intermission with Villanova up by two.
In addition to Fair's and Grant's offensive work, Syracuse earned double-digit scoring efforts from sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams and senior guard Brandon Triche, who each scored 10 points. Carter-Williams, the nation's leader in assist average, finished with seven, including six in the second half.
Syracuse excelled from the free-throw line for the second straight game, this time connecting on 24-of-30 from the charity stripe.
Mouphtaou Yarou led both units with 14 rebounds and had 11 points for Villanvoa.
It outcome was Syracuse's sixth straight victory and halted Villanova's seven-game streak of triumphs.
Syracuse was without senior forward James Southerland, who missed the contest with an eligibility matter, according to a release distributed prior to the game.
The Orange is next in action on January 19 when it takes on #3/4 Louisville in the KFC YUM! Center.