Gerry McNamara did it all for No. 4 Syracuse, scoring 29 points and making the first dunk of his college career. And he even managed to survive a couple of headlong dives, one of which left him sprawled in the Siena band.
Hakim Warrick and Josh Pace each added 13 points Saturday to lead the Orange to a 78-56 victory over Siena. Syracuse took an 18-2 lead in the first five minutes and led comfortably the rest of the way.
McNamara, Syracuse's best outside shooter, paced the early surge with a layup and a dunk after a steal and court-long dash. He then completed a four-point play after hitting his 200th career three-pointer.
The scrappy Saints, who had 12 steals, regrouped and rallied back to 23-14 on a three-pointer from the left wing by Tay Fisher, who finished with 12 points. But every time Siena seemed on the verge of making it a game, McNamara struck back.
"I pride myself in making the ones when I need to. When you jump on a team early and keep them there, it's not too bad," said McNamara, who leaped out of bounds for loose balls in the second half, toppling a photographer once and landing in the Siena band the other time.
"We didn't expect to destroy these guys, not in the least. We knew that they were a good team."
One dry spell occurred early in this one, but over the final 35 minutes Syracuse outscored Siena by only 60-54.
"It had a funny feeling. It was kind of a close game the whole game," said Warrick, who also had 15 rebounds and three steals. "If we were up 15 or 17, it never felt like that."
It was the first time Syracuse had played in the building in which it beat Auburn and Oklahoma to earn a berth in the Final Four on the way to winning the 2003 national championship.
"I could live in here," said McNamara, who was 6 for 14 on three-pointers. "That's the way I felt last time. It's fun to be back."
The win was the 29th straight for Syracuse (5-0) against in-state foes and sent Siena (0-5) to its worst start.
Michael Haddix led Siena with 15 points and five rebounds.
"We did a good job defensively the whole game," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. ". . . Siena might win some more games than people might think."
Around the nation
Shelden Williams had 16 points and 11 rebounds to help No. 6 Duke (3-0) to a 98-44 rout of North Carolina-Greensboro (2-1). Daniel Ewing and J.J. Redick also scored 16 points for the Blue Devils.
Joey Graham scored 25 points and John Lucas III added 17 as No. 6 Oklahoma State (3-0) breezed to a 73-57 win over Sam Houston State (1-4).
Maurice Ager had 19 points and No. 10 Michigan State (3-0) cruised to a 102-52 romp over Nicholls State (0-3).
Chevon Troutman had 17 points and Chris Taft added 12 as No. 16 Pittsburgh (3-0) cruised to a 93-57 win over Loyola, Md. (0-3). Freddie Stanback, Shane James and Charlie Bell all scored 12 points for the Greyhounds.
Matt Walsh scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half, helping No. 23 Florida (3-0) to an 84-66 win over Providence (4-2). Ryan Gomes had 17 points for the Friars.
Chet Stachitas scored a career-high 25 points and Dwayne Lee added 13 to lead Saint Joseph's (1-1) to a 76-61 win over Davidson (2-2).
Carlos Powell scored 16 of his game-high 22 points in the first half as South Carolina (3-0) raced to a 16-point lead en route to a 60-46 win over Temple (1-2). Mark Tyndale led the Owls with just 13 points on 5-of-20 shooting.
Peter Mulligan had 31 points and Manhattan (3-0) took a 76-60 win over Fordham (1-2).