SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Carmelo was in the house. The record crowd was imposing. The final game in the Carrier Dome between archrivals Georgetown and Syracuse as members of the Big East seemed to be there for the Orange to take and savour.
Instead, Otto Porter and the 11th-ranked Hoyas stole Syracuse's thunder, humbling the eighth-ranked Orange 57-46 on Saturday. Porter scored a career-high 33 points, putting an emphatic stamp on the impending end of an era.
"We just didn't play well enough," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "Georgetown played a tremendous defensive game. Porter was the difference."
Thirty-three years after the Hoyas halted Syracuse's 57-game home winning streak at Manley Field House, Porter added his name to the pantheon of stars who made this rivalry scintillating over the years.
His incredible play stopped the Orange's 38-game winning streak in the Carrier Dome, the longest in Division I, and it came in front of a disappointed record crowd of 35,012, the largest ever to see a college basketball on a school campus. It was the fewest points scored by Syracuse in the Carrier Dome, which opened in 1980.
"He (Porter) obviously had a great game, a great shooting game," said Syracuse senior guard Brandon Triche, who struggled in a 4-of-13 shooting performance, making just 1 of 7 from behind the arc. "We didn't take anything away. We didn't take his drive away. We didn't take his 3-point shot, midrange shot. Once he gets going, he's obviously going to be very hard to stop, especially playing zone."
Porter, left open more often than not against Syracuse's 2-3 zone, was 12 of 19, including five 3-pointers, and had a game-high five steals.
Georgetown (21-4, 11-3 Big East) has won nine straight, the longest current winning streak in the league, and the Hoyas will host Syracuse (22-5, 10-4) in two weeks. The Orange are leaving the Big East in July to join the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Syracuse and Georgetown entered the game tied with No. 17 Marquette atop the conference. Marquette lost Villanova later Saturday.
Fittingly, Syracuse began its current streak after a loss to Georgetown just over two years ago. That was Georgetown coach John Thompson III's first win in the Carrier Dome and a huge relief at the time.
The stands surrounding Jim Boeheim Court were jammed as the fans transformed the building into a raging sea of orange to celebrate a rivalry that can be traced to a snowy February night in 1980, when former Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr. became the man Syracuse fans came to despise.
Just how intense the rivalry has been is reflected by Boeheim's record against the Hoyas. Boeheim, the second-winningest coach in Division I history, is just 37-35 despite an overall record of 912-309, a 74.8 winning percentage.
Porter, who injured his right knee in a win over DePaul on Wednesday night, was unstoppable after a slow start and was the only Georgetown player in double figures. He put the game away late.
After C.J. Fair stole an inbounds pass and fed Michael Carter-Williams for a slam dunk to move Syracuse within 41-37 with 6:48 to play, Porter hit a fallaway 3-pointer as he was fouled by Triche and hit the free throw for a four-point play.
"Porter was so good today," Boeheim said. "He just dominated the game. He really won the game. He had to make plays and made them all day. Offensively, the games that we have lost we have struggled shooting the basketball, and today was no exception. I thought the game got away from us early."
Georgetown has held opponents under 60 points 17 times, allowing 56.1 points per game, with 11 of last 12 opponents shooting below 40 per cent.
Fair had 13 points and seven rebounds and James Southerland scored 13 points. Triche had 10 points for Syracuse, which was 4 of 20 on 3-pointers. Carter-Williams had seven points and five assists.
Former star Carmelo Anthony's jersey was retired in a halftime ceremony with the Orange in the locker room holding a 23-21 lead after a late surge in the closing seconds of the opening half.
The game was there for the taking, it seemed.
The Hoyas quieted the crowd quickly, erasing the deficit with a 10-2 spurt early in the second half keyed by Porter. He hit a 3 from the right wing, another from the left side, then stole a pass by Carter-Williams and hit a pullup jumper in the lane. D'Vaun Smith-Rivera's 3 from the left corner slammed both sides of the rim and dropped in for a 39-31 lead with 11:16 to play.
Southerland swished a 3 from the top of the key off a feed from Carter-Williams to stop the skid and Georgetown was called for a shot-clock violation when its slow-paced attack backfired, but the Orange could not muster another rally.
Syracuse used its home-crowd advantage -- the Dome was rocking like the days of yesteryear -- to run off a 10-2 spurt early in the game. Triche and Southerland hit 3-pointers on consecutive trips down court as the Hoyas sputtered, missing often in close and from afar. The Hoyas made just one basket, a foul-line jumper by Porter after a block by Fair -- in the first 9 minutes while missing their first eight attempts from long range.
The play was spirited, as it usually is when these teams meet. But after a flurry of misses under the Georgetown basket, the Hoyas maintained possession and Porter began to display the form that has made him a favourite to win Big East player of the year honours.
The 6-foot-8 sophomore swished a 3 from the wing to start a 17-3 spurt in which he scored 14 points. He then converted a slam off a turnover by Rakeem Christmas to give the Hoyas their first lead, and hit another 3 and a baseline jumper to complete the rush and put Georgetown up 21-15 as a hush fell over the Dome.
Carter-Williams stopped the slide with a three-point play for the Orange. Fair followed with a baseline floater and Southerland drained a 3 at the shot-clock buzzer in the final seconds off a feed from Triche.
The Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry was unmatched in its heyday in the 1980s and early 1990s and helped transform the Big East into the behemoth it's been for so long. Future games between the teams -- both schools have indicated they want to keep playing -- will have a different feel after this season.
What a rivalry it's been.
The teams have played 88 times since 1930 and 20 of those games were decided by one or two points, and 12 were settled in overtime.
No wonder that students camped all week outside the Dome to be part of the crowd. Not only did they get to witness history, Boeheim and assistants Mike Hopkins and Adrian Autry stopped by on Friday with coffee and refreshments in appreciation of their support.
Thirty-three years ago, the Hoyas beat Syracuse 52-50 in the last regularly scheduled game at Manley Field House. Afterward, Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr. declared -- "Manley Field House is now officially closed" -- and a rivalry was born.
This was the 72nd crowd of greater than 30,000 for a Syracuse men's game, and the Hoyas were the opponent 17 times.
Not a bad way to go out.