PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- A Top Ten team finally left the Rutgers Athletic Center with a win this season.
No. 2 Syracuse was able to do what Florida and Connecticut couldn't, beat Rutgers at home and leave with its ranking intact.
C.J. Fair scored a career-high 21 points and Scoop Jardine added 17, including a dagger three-pointer with 1:11 to play, as the Orange beat Rutgers, 74-64, on Sunday.
The team from the top of the 16-team Big East beat one of the bottom five. It didn't feel that way all game.
Gilvydas Biruta matched his career-high with 21 points for Rutgers, which was within two points four times from the 8:45 mark until there was 3:08 to play.
The Scarlet Knights couldn't tie the game or take the lead on seven possessions with the two-point deficit.
The last time they got that close was 64-62 with 3:08 left.
"Our guys kept the fighter's mentality. They didn't back down," Rutgers coach Mike Rice said. "It wasn't a negative, frustrated reaction. I've been working on that, have an edge, have a passion but don't become frustrated. That's selfish and takes away your energy."
Jardine, whose big three made it 69-62, talked about Rutgers' three freshmen guards, who struggled and combined to make 7 of 24 from the field, including 3 of 16 from three-point range.
"Those guys are really good," Jardine said of Myles Mack, Eli Carter and Jerome Seagears. "They are going to improve when they get confidence. This is a tough league, going against seniors and bigger guards like myself. We'll be talking about them two, three years from now."
Jardine sat in front of his locker with a smile as he answered questions about the big shot.
"I've done that a couple of times in my career," he said with a wink. "It's doing what you know you should."
The Orange (27-1, 14-1), who have seven players averaging between 14.0 and 7.0 points, improved their lead in the Big East standings to 2 1/2 games over No. 12 Marquette and No. 23 Notre Dame.
The Scarlet Knights fell to 12-15, 4-10.
Around the nation
*Seth Curry scored 18 points and No. 5 Duke cruised to a 75-50 win over Boston College. Duke (23-4, 10-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) pulled into a tie for the league lead with North Carolina and Florida State. Boston College (8-19, 3-10) was led by Ryan Anderson with 18 points.
*Draymond Green had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Austin Thornton had a career-high 17 points to lead No. 7 Michigan State past short-handed Purdue, 76-62. The Spartans (22-5, 11-3) took a one-game lead in the Big Ten title chase, Purdue (17-10, 7-7) had a three-game winning streak snapped.
*Josh Gasser scored 15 points and No. 15 Wisconsin held off Penn State, 65-55. Jared Berggren added 13 points, and Ryan Evans and Jordan Taylor scored 11 each for the Badgers (20-7, 9-5 Big Ten), who have won 8 of 10. Tim Frazier scored 20 points for the Nittany Lions (12-16, 4-11).
*Iowa senior Matt Gaten scored a career-high 30 points and Iowa (14-13, 6-8 Big Ten) beat No. 18 Indiana, 78-66, snapping a three-game winning streak by the Hoosiers (20-7, 8-7).