Syracuse 83, Rutgers 74

March 9, 2003 at 8:39 PM
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SYRACUSE, N.Y., March 9 (UPI) -- Freshman Carmelo Anthony matched a season high with 30 points Sunday as the 12th-ranked Syracuse Orangemen rallied from a 12-point deficit to clinch the West Division's top seed in the Big East Conference Tournament with an 83-74 victory over Rutgers.

Anthony is considered a top-five pick in the NBA draft, which he is likely to enter. If that happens, his final game at the Carrier Dome was a memorable one. He matched a career high with six assists, grabbed 14 rebounds and made all 10 of his foul shots.

"You saw the Player of the Year in the Big East out there," said Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim. "It's not even close."

"I hate to tell you that Anthony won't be back next year," Rutgers Coach Gary Waters said sarcastically.

Syracuse (23-4, 13-3 Big East West) finished tied with Pittsburgh, but earned the top seed in the conference tournament based on a better division record.

The Orangemen completed an undefeated season at home (16-0), something they had never done at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse also posted the 1,600th victory in school history, eighth on the NCAA's all-time list.

The Orangemen had a tougher than expected fight from the Scarlet Knights (12-16, 4-12), who were playing only for pride since they were already eliminated from the Big East Tournament.

Also, the Orangemen attracted a crowd of 33,071, an NCAA on-campus record.

Rutgers had a 54-42 lead with 13 minutes remaining, but the firepower of Syracuse was too much down the stretch. Kueth Duany and freshman Gerry McNamara hit consecutive three-pointers to make it 79-69 with 1:44 remaining.

"This game was kind of a microcosm of our season," Boeheim said. "We just didn't give up."

Kareem Wright scored 22 points for the Scarlet Knights, who were trying for a season sweep of the Orangemen. Rutgers beat Syracuse, 68-65, at home on Jan. 29.

"It's been the same M.O. for the entire year," Waters said. "We played for about 30 minutes, then there's about five minutes where there's a letdown."

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