Raleigh, N.C. • At times, top-ranked Syracuse looked dominant and worthy of its No. 1 ranking. At others, the Orange looked flustered and vulnerable against a hot-shooting opponent playing in front of a rowdy home crowd.
Perhaps that's why Kris Joseph sounded so pleased with the Orange's 88-72 win against North Carolina State on Saturday night.
"Not to say that we're arrogant, but we're No. 1 in the country for a reason," the senior said. "Going into someone else's home, it's always going to be tough. Like I said, we held our composure that's what I took out of this game."
Dion Waiters scored a career-high 22 points to lead the Orange (11-0) and teamed with Scoop Jardine to finally give Syracuse some cushion during an 11-2 second-half run after the Wolfpack fought back from 17 down late in the first half.
Waiters started the spurt by knocking down his own 3-pointer to answer one by Scott Wood that brought N.C. State (6-4) within 63-61. He also jumped a pass and raced in for a dunk, while Jardine added a pair of 3s that helped give Syracuse a 74-63 lead with 6:41 left.
"We knew they were going to come out throwing punches and we had to be ready to throw punches back," Waiters said. "With the No. 1 team coming inside here, we knew it was going to be a hostile environment but we had to stick together as a unit, play together and do everything we usually do in practice."
N.C. State got no closer than eight again, with the Orange blowing the game open in the final minutes.
"The single best thing was that when they made that comeback, our players kept their poise," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "They just kept getting good shots."
The Orange who will join N.C. State in the Atlantic Coast Conference in the coming years was playing for the first time as No. 1 this season after Kentucky and Ohio State lost road games last weekend. It also was Syracuse's first true road test after playing the first 10 games in its home state.
Senior C.J. Williams scored a career-high 25 points for the Wolfpack, thriving by flashing to the high post underneath the guards in the Syracuse zone for mid-range shots. C.J. Leslie added 13 points despite battling leg cramps in the second half and Richard Howell had 12 for N.C. State.
No. 2 Ohio State 74, South Carolina 66 • In Columbia, S.C., Deshaun Thomas scored a career-high 30 points and Ohio State overcame the loss of star Jared Sullinger to give Thad Matta his 200th win as Buckeyes coach. Sullinger left in the first half after getting kicked in the left foot. X-rays showed no fracture, although it wasn't known if Sullinger would play against Lamar on Tuesday night.
No. 4 Louisville 95, Memphis 87 • In Louisville, Ky., Russ Smith set personal bests with 24 points and seven steals as the Cardinals extended their home winning streak to 18 games.
• No. 1 Syracuse 88,N.C. State 72
• No. 2 Ohio State 74,South Carolina 66
• No. 3 Kentucky 87,Chattanooga 62
• No. 4 Louisville 95,Memphis 87
• No. 5 UNC 97,Appalachian State 82
• No. 6 Baylor 86, BYU 83
• No. 11 Marquette 84,Northern Colorado 64
• No. 13 Florida 84,No. 22 Texas A&M 64
• No. 15 Pitt 69,South Carolina State 55
• No. 16 Georgetown 81, American 55
• No. 17 Mississippi State 80, Detroit 75
• No. 18 Indiana 69,Notre Dame 58 • UNLV 64, No. 19 Illinois 48
• No. 20 Michigan 87,Alabama A&M 57
• No. 21 Michigan State 74, Bowling Green 60
• Kansas State 71,No. 23 Alabama 58
• No. 24 Murray State 66,Arkansas State 53
• No. 25 Creighton 97,Houston Baptist 62
• Indiana State 61,No. 25 Vanderbilt 55