Orange reach 20-0 before first loss to Notre Dame

Before they graduate in the spring, the two main seniors on Syracuse's men's basketball team, Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine, have one more goal in mind - a national championship. So it was ironic that academics may have caused the first serious on-court crisis of the Orange's season.

An issue with first-semester grades reportedly kept Fab Melo from joining SU on its two-game road trip to Notre Dame and Cincinnati, and when the Melo-less Orange fell to the Fighting Irish 67-58 Saturday night in South Bend, a 20-game win streak ended.

Before all this, though, Jardine and Joseph helped SU knock off Pittsburgh last Monday 71-63 inside the Carrier Dome and break its own school record by winning 20 straight to open the season.

The Orange had a hard time converting shots down the stretch, but won the contest at the free-throw line, making 11 of its last 12 shots. And the defense played well overall, despite allowing a few easy interior Pitt baskets and getting out-rebounded, 19-8, on the offensive end.

Not only did the Orange surpass its record 19-0 start from the 1999-2000 season, it marked the 34th time in Jim Boeheim's 36-year coaching tenure that SU has got to that 20-win plateau. Boeheim also tied Kentucky legend Adolph Rupp with 876 career wins.

It was a tale of two teams that, at the time, were heading in opposite directions, the Panthers falling to 0-6 in the Big East. Still, SU’s offense was not sharp after starting out on a 15-4 run.

However, there were enough positive contributions from five players who scored in double figures. Dion Waiters had 16 points on six-for-eight shooting, while Jardine accomplished a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists.

Melo, in the last game before his benching, was an important factor, posting his third double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

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