PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Hakim Warrick had the trip home circled on
his calendar long ago, ready to reunite with friends and family and
enjoy a rare homecooked meal.
Oh yeah, he also wanted to show some of the city schools what
"I couldn't wait to get out here and have a big game," Warrick
The senior forward scored a career-high 32 points and grabbed 12
rebounds, and Gerry McNamara had 18 points in their return to their
home state, helping Syracuse (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP) send Villanova (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today, No. 22 AP) to its
worst loss of the season, 90-75 Saturday.
"I usually don't get a chance to go home until after the
season," said Warrick, a Philly native. "It's extra special
having them be here to see me get my career high."
The Wildcats (14-6, 5-5) simply didn't have the size to stop
Warrick, who was downright dominant in his best game of the season.
Warrick beat them offensively on easy feeds inside and had his
way on the boards with seven offensive rebounds. Warrick was
10-for-14 from the field and 12-of-16 from the free throw line,
with almost every look easy and uncontested.
He got a rise out of the sellout crowd with a string of dunks
late in the second half, then flexed his muscles for an
appreciative orange-clad crowd after he finished off one
"I think this was one of my best games," Warrick said.
The Orange (22-3, 9-2 Big East) looked nothing like the team
that hit a mini-skid with two losses in their last three games,
both to Top 25 teams.
In the last three games, Syracuse was outrebounded by an average
of more than eight per game. Against the Wildcats, the Orange
enjoyed a 42-34 edge and scored 26 second-chance points.
"It was probably the best we played defensively in a while,"
said coach Jim Boeheim, who improved his career record to 698-237.
"I thought this was one of our better efforts in the league. There
was nothing much that was bad about today."
McNamara had his usual strong following from Scranton, Pa.,
about 120 miles northwest of Philadelphia. Busloads of Orange fans
made the trip and McNamara hugged a few of them during a timeout
with 28 seconds left, nodding toward the others in what turned into
a Syracuse home game.
"It's definitely comfortable playing in front of people that
are for you," he said.
McNamara, though, is used to the faithful following. Warrick,
who played at both University City High School and a prep school in
Philly, seemed moved his mother was able to watch him play.
She might have been able to attend on a more regular basis, but
Warrick said he was all but overlooked by Philadelphia's six
Division I schools.
"He's pretty good for a skinny kid from Philadelphia," Boeheim
The Wildcats had won five of six, including victories over
Kansas and Notre Dame at the Wachovia Center. The 76ers' home court
was no advantage a third time for the Wildcats.
Villanova was an awful 13-for-25 from the free throw line, well
below its 74 percent average. Trailing by 10 late in the first
half, the Wildcats missed five straight from the line and blew a
major chance to get back into the game.
"When you miss free throws, sometimes it's not just a bad
night, it might be because the other team got in your head,"
Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "They did a good job of making us
play in a hesitant way. Maybe you're just due for one of these
games. We just weren't ourselves."
Syracuse could have turned the game into a blowout even earlier
if not for six turnovers over the first 6½ minutes. Still, the
Orange hit their first six shots from the field and finished at 62
percent overall in the half.
With Gov. Ed Rendell, New York Jets coach Herm Edwards and
former Orange star Billy Owens watching from the stands, Syracuse
finally got its game together midway through the first half.
McNamara scored five straight points during an 18-9 run to close
the half that made it 43-29.
The Orange needed the blowout -- they host Pitt (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 18 AP) on Monday
night, then play at No. 4 Boston College, which has only one loss
"Hopefully we can play our way through that and become a better
team," Boeheim said.