CINCINNATI — Kris Joseph scored 17 points Monday night, and No. 3 Syracuse recovered from its first loss of the season by beating Cincinnati 60-53, giving coach Jim Boeheim a notable career win.
The Orange (21-1, 8-1 Big East) used a late 12-2 run to pull away from the Bearcats (15-6, 5-3), who tried to use the energy of their first home sellout to get a signature win.
Instead, Boeheim came away with career victory No. 877, moving him ahead of Adolph Rupp into sole possession of fourth place on the Division I coaching list.
Syracuse was coming off a 67-58 loss at Notre Dame on Saturday that ended the best start in school history and cost the Orange their No. 1 ranking. Joseph had three driving baskets during the 12-2 run midway through the second half.
Cashmere Wright had 17 points for Cincinnati, which suffered its first back-to-back losses of the season.
A little old-fashioned zone defense made the difference. Cincinnati’s 53 points matched its season low against Xavier.
The Bearcats, who wore throwback uniforms for their biggest home game of the season. Most of the 13,176 fans dressed in white, and the coaches wore white button-down shirts without jackets. Syracuse’s late spurt sent them to the exits before the buzzer.
The Orange was missing 7-foot center Fab Melo for the second straight game. Melo is their top rebounder and shot blocker. The school hasn’t disclosed the reason for his absence.
Syracuse leads the Big East with 78.9 points per game and 48 percent shooting, fueled by fastbreak layups off turnovers. Cincinnati kept it close until the late Orange run.
The Bearcats fed off the crowd’s energy and made four of their first five shots from behind the arc, including three long 3s by Wright, for a 15-6 lead. They went cold after that and had trouble scoring inside Syracuse’s zone defense.
C.J. Fair had a fastbreak dunk and a baseline jumper during a 9-0 run that tied it at 15. Both defenses then dug in, keeping it close the rest of the half.
Syracuse never led during its loss at Notre Dame, unable to overcome a slow start. The Orange got their first lead Monday in the final minute of the half. Joseph had a driving dunk — he went past two Bearcats on the baseline — and Dion Waiters hit a pull-up jumper with a second left for a 28-25 halftime lead.
Cincinnati went inside to power forward Yancy Gates at the start of the second half and got a lot of open shots. The power forward had three layups and a 15-foot jumper, scoring eight of the Bearcats’ first 13 points in the half.
Gates had his best offensive game since returning from a six-game suspension for a brawl against Xavier, scoring 16 points.
Syracuse finally found its touch from behind the arc. Scoop Jardine hit a 3 with 9:30 left — the Orange had been 0 for 8 — and Brandon Triche followed with another during the 12-2 run that gave the Orange their biggest lead at 52-44 with 6:08 to go.
Another 3 by Jardine pushed it to 59-48 with 1:52 left, sending the white-shirted fans to the exits.