SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- On a rugged day in the Big East, when the top two teams in the conference both lost, Syracuse (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP) survived -- barely.
Kris Joseph scored six of his 21 points in overtime, and the Orange converted 34 of 47 free throws to hold off Rutgers 84-80 on Saturday.
That's 72.3 percent for those keeping track. Not bad for a team that entered the game ranked 280th out of 335 in free-throw shooting at 64.9 percent.
"We got them in the bonus early in both halves," said Joseph, who made 10 of 12 free throws. "I feel like we went to the basket stronger and the refs were making the right calls."
The Scarlet Knights were called for 30 fouls to 18 against Syracuse. The total was five off the school record for free throws attempted in a game and the 34 made were just six off the team record set in Syracuse's win over Connecticut in the 2009 Big East tournament -- and that one took six overtimes.
"I think that's the first time we've ever done that, and I don't think it had anything to do with penetration," said Brandon Triche, who was 9 of 9 on free throws and finished with 17 points despite 3-for-15 shooting. "We got a lot of rebounds, and that really helped."
The game was tied at 70 after regulation, and Joseph gave the Orange (22-6, 9-6) a 75-71 lead when he curled off a screen at the top of the key and swished a 3 off a feed from Triche.
Jonathan Mitchell responded 16 seconds later with a 3 from the right wing for Rutgers, and after Scoop Jardine's baseline drive and floater made it 77-75 with 2:07 left, the Scarlet Knights missed three straight shots.
Syracuse sank 7 of 10 free throws in the final 63 seconds and held on as Coburn missed a 3 at the buzzer.
"We have to find a way to be up by seven in the second half and find a way to win," said Coburn, who led Rutgers with 18 points and six assists. "When you're down and you're trying to fight back, it's tough. We had to keep working."
The frustration mounted for Rutgers midway through the second half, when coach Mike Rice received a technical for protesting a non-call during a rough encounter in front of his bench. Triche sank both free throws to give Syracuse a 57-51 lead.
"You just have to believe that those were the calls," Rice said. "When I look at the film, I'm sure that I'll see a lot of blockouts and a lot of calls I'll scratch my head at. We have to do a better job. Any time they seemed to get the ball underneath, it was a foul."
Rutgers (13-13, 4-10) has lost five of six and fell to 1-22 all-time in games played at Syracuse, including 15 straight losses. The lone victory was 76-75 on Feb. 6, 1975 -- the season before Jim Boeheim became head coach of the Orange.
C.J. Fair finished with a career-high 17 points and pulled down eight rebounds for Syracuse, which recovered from a subpar first half defensively.
Mitchell finished with 13 points and Gilvydas Biruta had 12 points and eight rebounds before fouling out in the extra period for the Scarlet Knights.
Rick Jackson, who finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds and matched his career high with seven blocks, tied the game at 70 when he converted one of two free throws with 9.9 seconds left. James Beatty missed a long 3 at the buzzer for Rutgers as the game headed for overtime.
Jackson remained a factor despite playing the final 7 minutes of regulation and the entire overtime with four fouls, the only Syracuse player in foul trouble.
"It's just a part of the game," Jackson said. "You're going to foul. Guys drive the lane, you gotta step up, you gotta block shots. It's just about being physical."
The Scarlet Knights shot 54.5 percent from the floor in the first half and were 5 of 9 from beyond the arc, taking a 44-43 lead into the break on Coburn's off-balance 3 at the buzzer.
But the Orange turned up the defense in the second half, limiting Rutgers to 10 of 26 (38.5 percent) shooting and 2 of 9 (22.2 percent) from beyond the arc.
Rutgers hung tough, converting 14 turnovers into 22 points, and the game was up for grabs after Syracuse missed its first seven shots of the second half. But Rutgers failed to take advantage and the Orange tied the game at 51 on Fair's three-point play with 13:54 left.
That started a 14-4 Syracuse spurt as Joseph came alive after scoring just six points in a lackluster first half. He converted a dunk off a baseline drive and then hit a 3 from the top of the key to give the Orange a 62-55 lead. It was Syracuse's lone 3 of the half in seven attempts.
But the Scarlet Knights rallied after Jackson went to the bench with his fourth foul as the Orange committed two turnovers and missed three shots.
Fair tied it at 1:40 on a floater in the lane off a nice feed from Jackson, and Jackson gave the Orange the lead by converting one of two free throws with 39.8 seconds left.
Syracuse started the season 18-0, winning several close games with inspired play in the second half. Boeheim, who's won 21 of his last 24 overtime games, was heartened by another.
"When it's gotten close, this team has had some unbelievable wins," he said. "You see the way St. John's is playing in the [Madison Square] Garden. We had them down by 20. We've stepped up and made plays to win. That's not always easy to do. The big concern I had was we just weren't playing defense in the first half."