SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Michael Carter-Williams picked the perfect time to get his game back on track.
Syracuse’s slick-passing sophomore point guard had a career-high 18 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds on Monday to lead the seventh-ranked Orange to a 96-62 victory over Central Connecticut State.
The win gave Orange coach Jim Boeheim his 902nd career win.After hitting only 5 of 26 shots in the three previous games, Carter-Williams was 6 of 10 from the floor, including 3 of 4 from behind the 3-point arc, as Syracuse (12-1) found its long-range touch. He was one rebound shy of recording Syracuse’s first triple-double since Allen Griffin in 2001.
“My teammates told me. I was so close,” said Carter-Williams, who leads the nation in assists with 10.2 per game. “I’ll get one.”
Syracuse completed its nonconference schedule with its 32nd straight home win, the longest active streak in the nation. Boeheim tied Bob Knight for second all-time in victories among Division I men’s coaches, behind only Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (939).
Boeheim’s first chance to pass Knight comes in the Orange’s Big East opener Wednesday night at home against Rutgers (9-2), which has won five straight.
“We’re looking forward to starting the Big East with Rutgers,” Boeheim said as he contemplated the Orange’s final year in the conference before joining the Atlantic Coast Conference. “They’re off to a great start and we’re looking forward to that challenge.”
CCSU (4-7) lost its fourth straight and was overmatched against the much taller Orange after a strong start. Senior forward Joe Efese was the tallest Blue Devil in the starting lineup at 6-foot-6, dwarfed by a Syracuse front line of 6-8 C.J. Fair, 6-9 Dajuan Coleman and 6-9 Rakeem Christmas.
Carter-Williams posted his seventh double-double of the season. Fair finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, Coleman had 13 points and nine rebounds, and Brandon Triche added 13 points.
The Orange finished 10 of 22 from behind the 3-point arc after going 11 of 39 in the previous two games, outrebounded the Blue Devils 57-32, and had a 56-18 advantage in the paint.
“It’s real important (to establish the outside game),” said Carter-Williams, who was 2 for 12 from behind the arc in the previous four games, not even attempting one against Alcorn State on Saturday. “It brings my confidence up. I’m just going to keep shooting the ball, try to be successful with it. I practice it every day. Why not go out there and shoot it with confidence?”
Matt Hunter had 18 points and 13 rebounds to lead Central Connecticut, and Kyle Vinales had 14 points and matched his season high with four 3-pointers. Adonis Burbage and Terrell Allen each had 13 points.
“As expected, we got outrebounded badly,” CCSU coach Howie Dickenman said. “The last three games we had been outrebounded by 21 per game. Today was a few higher, but we had some bright lights. I don’t want to say we played great, but we hustled. We got beat by a better team, obviously.”
The Blue Devils held their own at the outset, going 6 of 11 from the floor, including three 3-pointers, and outrebounding the Orange 8-6 in the first 8 minutes.
A pair of 3s by Vinales gave CCSU a 15-13 lead at the 12:08 mark as the Blue Devils consistently found the open man against the Orange’s 2/3 zone. And after James Southerland scored five straight points for the Orange, Allen and Vinales countered with 3s to put CCSU up 21-18 just past the midpoint of the half.
“We were blowing them out. I was hoping for a bomb scare,” Dinkenman deadpanned.
Syracuse found its rhythm soon after, hitting four 3s and closing the half with a 29-5 surge to take charge.
Carter-Williams started the run with a 3 from the top of the key and Southerland followed with a two-handed slam after a steal by Christmas. Fair, Carter-Williams and Trevor Cooney then made 3-pointers in a 63-second span and the Blue Devils were in a deep hole in the blink of an eye.
After an impressive start, CCSU made only 4 of 18 shots and trailed 47-26 at the break.
“They got on a roll and started hitting shots,” Hunter said. “There wasn’t anything we could do about it. They hit a few big 3s — back to back to back — and that really hurt us. We could never really recover from it.”