01/10/2009 10:48 PM ET
Flynn's dunk spurs 'Cuse win at Rutgers
Electrifying slam keys Orange win at RAC
By Adam Zagoria / SNY.tv
Paul Harris and the Orange have now won seven straight games. (AP)

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Jonny Flynn drove into the paint, elevated and threw down a one-handed tomahawk jam over Rutgers freshman guard Mike Rosario.

Flynn grimaced and flexed for the benefit of the crowd at the Rutgers Athletic Center while Rosario, now flat on his back on the court after trying to take a charge, looked up at him helplessly.

Rutgers coach Fred Hill was whistled for a technical foul because he wanted a charging call, but it never came.

That play was the turning point in No. 11 Syracuse's 82-66 victory over Rutgers on Saturday night before a crowd that was about equally split between orange-clad Syracuse fans and Rutgers faithful wearing red.

By the end, the dominant chant that echoed throughout the arena was "Let's go Orange."

"I got my shot blocked on the break [earlier] and coach Murph [Rob Murphy] was like, 'Man, if you get up that high again and don't dunk, I'll lose all respect for you,'" said Flynn, the sublimely talented sophomore point guard who tallied 15 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds and 0 turnovers. "After I dunked that, I gave him a quick look and said, 'Like that,' and he just laughed at me.

"It was just a game-changing play. My team fed off of it and put out a good win here."

Don't be surprised if you see the dunk on television highlights.

"[Syracuse coach Jim] Boeheim said it was probably a top five dunk, so I'm going to watch [SportsCenter] tonight," said Syracuse forward Paul Harris. "I think it might be {No.] one."

The Orange (16-1, 4-0 Big East), winners of seven straight, are too quick, talented and strong for many opponents. They are off to their best start since the 1999-00 season, when they began 19-0, and are tied with Marquette atop a brutal conference that features nine Top 25 teams.

Rutgers (9-8, 0-4), which lost its fifth straight to a ranked opponent, continues to fight but come up on the short end.

After facing the top three teams in the nation during a stretch unprecedented in college basketball history (No. 1 North Carolina, No. 3 Pitt and No. 2 UConn) -- and losing all three games -- the Scarlet Knights then fell to No. 18 Marquette on Wednesday.

Rutgers led by as many as seven points in the first half, but Syracuse outscored Rutgers 43-28 after the break.

Rutgers had no answer in the open floor for Harris, an athletic wing forward who scored a game-high 26 points on 11-of-13 shooting, or in the paint for 6-foot-9, 275-pound junior Arinze Onuaku, who had 19 points.

"He's a real strong guy," Rutgers freshman forward Greg Echenique said of Onuaku. "It wasn't easy to guard him. They're good players. I wasn't expecting to shut him down completely. You don't do that to great players."

Rosario, the third-leading freshman scorer in the nation, scored 15 points on 6-of-22 shooting, but managed only three in the second half on 1-for-11. Anthony Farmer scored a team-high 17 points for the Knights and Echenique had 10.

"I felt as though they shaded toward me a lot more [in the second half] and they relied on the other players on my team to make shots besides me," Rosario said.

Hill said he wanted his team to take 20-25 3-pointers and make 10 of them. They shot 5 of 24 instead.

"We got some clean looks, some good looks that we normally knock down," Farmer said. "And if that's not working we have to make some adjustments. For the most part we got the looks we wanted and the shots just didn't go down."

Rutgers cut a seven-point second-half deficit to 52-48 on a putback by JR Inman, but Flynn followed with his electric dunk to make it 54-48. After the technical, Devendorf made 1-of-2 free throws and then scored another basket to push the lead to 57-48.A 17-9 Syracuse run, capped by a driving layup by Harris, extended the Orange lead to 69-57 with 7:35 remaining.

Of the Flynn dunk, Rosario said he was trying to take a charge.

"I just was trying to make a big play for my team trying to take a charge," he said. "I thought it was a charge... He's a great player, Jonny Flynn. That's a great team we played tonight.

"[The dunk] gave them a motivation and it probably picked their team up as well."

Rutgers heads to play Cincinnati Wednesday, while Syracuse visits No. 9 Georgetown that same night.

Nine of Syracuse's next 10 teams are against ranked foes, but Flynn thinks his team has much room for improvement.

"That's the scary thing, I think we can get so much better," he said. "We don't have no ceiling on this team. We cut down on our turnovers which we really needed to do. We can do a lot of things better and that's the good thing about the team."

Adam Zagoria is a regular contributor to SNY.tv. Read his blog at ZagsBlog.com.
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