Syracuse, NY (Sports Network) - Demetris Nichols posted 21 points and six rebounds, as the 15th-ranked Syracuse Orange beat Holy Cross, 72-64, at the Carrier Dome.
Paul Harris netted 14 points for Syracuse (7-0), which will play seven of its next eight contests at the Carrier Dome and is not scheduled to play a game outside the state of New York until January 7th. Josh Wright scored 13 points and Eric Devendorf added nine.
"We played the best defense we've played in a long time," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "We really moved well, fought the screens, helped each other and did a tremendous job. We started the second half the same way and the whistles started blowing."
Keith Simmons scored 22 points for Holy Cross (5-1), which had been off to its best start since winning the first six games of the 1988-89 campaign. Colin Cunningham scored 11 points, and Alex Vander Baan added eight points and 11 rebounds.
With the Crusaders trailing by nine, Simmons hit a three-pointer with 42.7 seconds left to cut the Holy Cross deficit to 66-60.
Wright then converted 1-of-2 from the free-throw line with 42.2 seconds left to make it a three-possession game. Simmons then got fouled and hit a pair from the charity stripe with 35.6 seconds remaining for a 67-62 Holy Cross deficit.
Nichols hit a free throw with 20.6 seconds to go, but Cunningham got fouled attempting a three-pointer. He hit two of the free throws with 17.4 seconds left for a four-point Holy Cross deficit.
Devendorf then hit a pair from the free-throw line with 15.7 seconds left and Nichols added a pair as well to seal the hard-fought win for Syracuse.
"It kind of gets a little scary and you can't get nervous because there are going to be times like that and I'm just glad we came out with the victory because it's better than getting the loss," Harris said.
Syracuse opened the game on a 23-7 run capped by a Harris free throw with 7:04 remaining, and led 31-19 at halftime.
Holy Cross outrebounded the Orange, 39-32. Syracuse shot 20-for-46 (43.5 percent) from the floor, compared to 22-for-60 (36.7 percent) by the Crusaders.
Syracuse leads the all-time series against Holy Cross 13-12, but the programs hadn't squared off on the hardwood since 1981.
11/27 22:45:47 ET
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