2:00 PM ET, March 9, 2003
Carrier Dome, Syracuse, New York
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) --Until this season, Syracuse had never gone unbeaten in the Carrier Dome. Until this season, the Orangemen never had Carmelo Anthony.The freshman forward matched his career high with 30 points and had 14 rebounds and six assists as No. 12 Syracuse rallied to beat Rutgers 83-74 Sunday, avenging one of its losses and finishing its first perfect season in the dome since it opened in 1980. ``It's a great thing to finish the season 17-0 at home,'' said Anthony, who notched his 18th double-double and eclipsed Lawrence Moten's school record of 583 points by a freshman, set in 1991-92. ``We've got a lot of confidence right now.'' The victory earned the Orangemen (23-4, 13-3 Big East) one of the top seeds for this week's conference tournament. It also was win No. 1,600 for Syracuse, making it the seventh Division I program to attain that milestone. ``We know that the first half of our season is over,'' said Anthony, who also finished with the highest scoring average for a freshman in Big East history, 21.4 points. Troy Bell of Boston College set the old mark of 20.1 in 1999-00. ``We've got another part coming up this week in New York City,'' Anthony said. ``We control our own destiny. If we play together like we did today in the second half, we can go far.'' The loss ended a dismal season for Rutgers (12-16, 4-12), which finished last in the Big East West Division and failed to make the conference tournament. ``This has been a growing year for me,'' said Gary Waters, in his second year at Rutgers. ``This is the first time in my coaching career of 28 years that I've ended a season without something to play for. I don't ever want that to happen again.'' The game, which was not televised locally, attracted a Carrier Dome-record crowd of 33,071, also an NCAA on-campus record, as die-hard Orange fans hoped to convince Anthony to stay one more year instead of jumping to the NBA, chanting ``One more year!'' as time wound down. ``I got a chill when everybody started cheering that,'' said Anthony, who has 607 points. ``To know that 33,000 are supporting me right now, I just feel great about it.'' Kueth Duany, the lone senior on Syracuse, had 15 points, while Hakim Warrick and Gerry McNamara each scored 11, and Josh Pace, who sparked a late rally, had 10. Kareem Wright led Rutgers with 20 points, while Ricky Shields had 18 points and 10 rebounds. Herve Lamizana and Sean Axani each scored 12 points for the Scarlet Knights and Jerome Coleman had 10. Despite the rabid support, the Orangemen had to rally yet again. They trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half and fell behind by 12 in the second after Axani's baseline jumper over Anthony gave the Scarlet Knights a 54-42 lead with 13:44 left. Anthony, who missed all five 3-pointers he attempted, took it inside and led Syracuse back with an 11-2 run, capping the spurt with a two-handed dunk at 11:33 off a steal by Pace, who also had six rebounds and two assists in 21 minutes. Rutgers refused to fold, though, and two free throws by Shields just under two minutes later put the Scarlet Knights up 62-55. Syracuse used a press to stop Rutgers and complete its 12th second-half comeback of the season. And it was Anthony who led the Orangemen. He set up Warrick's dunk that brought Syracuse within 64-63, then hit two free throws to give Syracuse the lead for good. Anthony's rebound basket and a dunk that finished a three-way passing play with McNamara and Pace made it 71-67 with 3:34 left. Anthony, who hit all 10 of his free throws, then fed Pace for a fast-break layup and set up a 3 by Duany to boost the lead to 76-69. ``Defense and hustle plays won the game,'' said McNamara, whose 3-pointer from the top of the key gave Syracuse a 79-69 lead with 1:44 left. ``Our press rattled them a little bit. Without Josh Pace, we don't win.'' Anthony has keyed the Orangemen to 10 wins in their last 11 games, four on the road, and has been remarkably consistent all season. Syracuse, which was picked to finish third or fourth in the West Division in the preseason, tied Pitt for first place. ``I don't think they want to set a precedent and have a freshman win it, but he has had a tremendous year,'' Boeheim said of Anthony's chances at being selected conference player of the year. ``Without any doubt, you saw the player of the year in the Big East today. Player of the year should go to the player who wins.''
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