NEWARK, N.J. -- Jim Boeheim stood looking at the stat sheet, his face contorting in pain the longer he read it.
"We both had bad first halves and we were able to overcome ours," said Boeheim, who is second to Duke's Mike Krzyzewski among active coaches on the career victories list. "You can't do that too often."No. 4 Syracuse did it Saturday, surviving a terrible offensive performance for a 61-56 victory over Seton Hall, which had a lot tougher time at that one end of the court than the Orange did.
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The Pirates entered the game as the worst shooting team in the Big East at 40.4 percent -- and that number looked like an impossible dream in the first half, when they shot 22.9 percent (8 of 35), including missing all 17 3-point attempts."I haven't seen an 0 for 17 ever, especially in a half," first-year Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. "At halftime we watched a little film so we saw our shots. ... I told them just keep letting them rain and we're bound to hit one. Jamel Jackson finally got us off the schneid. I felt good for him."Syracuse wasn't exactly lighting up the scoreboard, shooting 30.4 percent (7 of 23), and the Orange missed seven of their eight 3-point attempts. Somehow, they led 20-19 at halftime."We had no flow to what we were doing on offense," said Boeheim, whose 845 career wins leaves him 47 behind Krzyzewski. "Luckily our defense was pretty good."The Orange were able to turn it around in the second half behind Brandon Triche. The sophomore guard scored all 15 of his points in the opening 8:20 of the second half. He hit four 3s in that span, the last one part of a four-point play that made it 42-33."Brandon Triche got really hot there," said Kris Joseph, who led the Orange (16-0, 3-0 Big East) with 15 points. "They were switching defenses and that made it difficult and we weren't smooth offensively. We have to do a better job the rest of the season."Scoop Jardine added 12 points and Rick Jackson had nine points and 14 rebounds for the Orange, who entered the game as one of the last seven unbeaten teams in Division I.The Orange's last 16-0 start was in 1999-2000, when they won their first 19 games."The Big East is a tough conference," Jackson said. "We just have to stay with it."Jeff Robinson had 17 points and 14 rebounds and Herb Pope had 14 points and 20 rebounds for Seton Hall (7-9, 1-3), which has lost three straight and six of seven.Robinson and Pope outrebounded Syracuse by themselves 34-32, as the Pirates finished with a 44-32 advantage on the boards. But they just couldn't be effective against Syracuse's 2/3 zone."Out of the 16 games we played, in 15 of them we've been hardworking and competitive," Willard said. "We brought that again tonight but we struggled with our shooting."Syracuse's previous low for points in a half was 23 in a season-opening 68-46 win over Northern Iowa.The second half was quite different for Syracuse. It made 12 of 20 shots from the field (60 percent), but still the Orange couldn't put the Pirates away because of 17-for-36 shooting from the free throw line."We never felt we were out of the game," Willard said. "We just felt we couldn't shoot."Seton Hall finished 3 for 26 (11.5 percent) on 3s while the Orange were 6 of 17 (35.3 percent).Syracuse opened a 54-40 lead with 5:58 left on a tip-in by Joseph.The Pirates then had their only offensive burst of the game, going on a 13-1 run to get within 55-53 with 2:20 to play on two free throws by Jordan Theodore. Pope had seven points in the run, all from in close as he and Robinson stood up to Syracuse's front line, finishing with a 44-32 rebounds advantage.Jardine scored on a drive 30 seconds later and when Theodore missed to go 0 for 9 in the game, Joseph came down and made one free throw. A rebound basket by Pope made it 58-55 with 51 seconds left, but the Orange were able to hold the Pirates the rest of the way despite missing three of four free throws in the final 16.6 seconds."Brandon Triche hitting those 3s was our offense and we made a couple of plays when we had to," Boeheim said. "If he doesn't hit those 3s and we still miss 19 free throws, it would have been different, very different."The Division I record for most 3-point attempts in a game without making one is 22 by Canisius against St. Bonaventure on Jan. 21, 1995.