By JOHN KEKIS
AP Sports Writer
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) _ When Central Connecticut coach Howie Dinkenman looked up at the scoreboard and his Blue Devils held a three-point lead over seventh-ranked Syracuse just past the midway point of the first half, only one thought crossed his mind.
“I was hoping for a bomb scare,” Dinkenman deadpanned.
It came all right _ in the form of a long-range attack by the Orange. After two subpar games from behind the arc, Syracuse hit 10 of 22 and beat the Blue Devils 96-62 on Monday for Orange coach Jim Boeheim’s 902nd career win.
Matt Hunter had 18 points and 13 rebounds to lead Central Connecticut (4-7), and Kyle Vinales had 14 points and matched his season high with four 3-pointers. Adonis Burbage and Terrell Allen each had 13 points.
Michael Carter-Williams had a career-best 18 points and added 13 assists, his seventh double-double of the season, and C.J. Fair finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead Syracuse (12-1). Dajuan Coleman had 13 points and nine rebounds, Brandon Triche added 13 points and James Southerland had 11.
Boeheim tied Bob Knight for second all-time in victories among Division I men’s coaches. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski leads with 939.
“I thought as a team we played hard,” Dinkenman said. “They’re big, they’re strong, they’re long. It’s tough for us to penetrate the zone and come up with good shots.”
It wasn’t at the outset.
The Blue Devils went 6 of 11 from the floor, including three 3-pointers, and outrebounded the much taller Orange 8-6 in the first 8 minutes.
A pair of 3s by Kyle Vinales gave CCSU a 15-13 lead at 12:08 as the Blue Devils consistently found the open man against the Orange’s 2-3 zone. And after Southerland scored five straight points for the Orange, Allen and Vinales countered with 3s to put CCSU up 21-18 with 9:00 left in the half.
“We were thinking, keep playing, keep playing, because we know that against teams like this if you think you’re up, you can look up and they can be up by 10 or 15,” Hunter said.
And that’s exactly what happened as Syracuse found its rhythm, hitting four 3s and closing the half with a 29-5 surge to take charge.
Carter-Williams, who had nine rebounds to come ever-so-close to an elusive triple-double, started the run with a 3 from the top of the key and Southerland followed with a two-handed slam after a steal by Rakeem Christmas.
C.J. Fair, Carter-Williams, and Trevor Cooney then hit 3-pointers in a 63-second span and the Blue Devils were quickly in a deep hole they couldn’t escape.
“They got on a roll and started hitting shots,” Hunter said. “There wasn’t anything we could do about it. They hit a few big 3s _ back to back to back _ and that really hurt us. We could never really recover from it.”
Syracuse completed its nonconference schedule with its 32nd straight home win, the longest active streak in the nation. Boeheim’s first chance to pass Knight comes in the Orange’s Big East opener on Wednesday night at home against Rutgers.
CCSU lost its fourth straight and was overmatched against the much taller Orange after that strong start. Senior forward Joe Efese was the tallest Blue Devil in the starting lineup at 6-foot-6, dwarfed by Syracuse’s front line of the 6-8 Fair and Coleman and Christmas, who stand 6-9.
The Orange, who were 11 of 39 on 3-pointers in the previous two games, outrebounded the Blue Devils 57-32 and had a 56-18 advantage in the paint. CCSU shot 31.8 percent (21 of 66) and was 9 of 35 (25.7 percent) on 3-pointers.
“As expected, we got outrebounded badly,” Dinkenman said. “The last three games we had been outrebounded by 21 per game, today was a few higher, but we had some bright lights. I don’t want to say we played great, but we hustled. We got beat by a better team, obviously.
“I think Syracuse as a team has the most height _ I don’t remember any team with that kind of length. That’s what makes them so effective. You don’t get many chances for good looks.”