SYRACUSE, New York (Ticker) -- Carmelo Anthony would not allow Syracuse to lose its regular-season finale.
The multi-talented freshman matched a season high with 30 points as the 12th-ranked Orangemen rallied from a 12-point deficit to clinch the West division's top seed in the upcoming Big East Conference tournament with an 83-74 victory over Rutgers.
Anthony is considered a possible top-five pick in the NBA draft, which he is likely to enter. If that turns out to be the case, his final game at the Carrier Dome was a memorable one. He matched a career high with six assists, grabbed 14 rebounds and made all 10 foul shots.
"You saw the Player of the Year in the Big East out there," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "It's not even close."
"I hate to tell you that Anthony won't be back next year," Rutgers coach Gary Waters said.
Syracuse (23-4, 13-3 Big East West) finished tied with Pittsburgh, but earned the top seed in the conference tournament based on a better division record.
The Orangemen completed an undefeated season at home (16-0), something they had never done at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse also posted the 1,600th victory in school history, eighth on the NCAA's all-time list.
The contest attracted a crowd of 33,071, an NCAA on-campus record.
But the Orangemen got a tougher than expected fight from the Scarlet Knights (12-16, 4-12), who had nothing to play for as they already were eliminated from the Big East tournament.
Rutgers led, 54-42, with 13 minutes remaining, but Syracuse's firepower was too much down the stretch. Kueth Duany and freshman Gerry McNamara hit consecutive 3-pointers to make it 79-69 with 1:44 remaining.
"This game was kind of a microcosm of our season," Boeheim added. "We just didn't give up."
Kareem Wright scored 20 points for the Scarlet Knights, who were trying for a season sweep of the Orangemen. Rutgers beat Syracuse, 68-65, at home on January 29.
Each team had five double-figure scorers, but Syracuse dominated inside, outscoring Rutgers, 50-30, in the paint, and held the Scarlet Knights to 35 percent shooting from the field (22-of-63). The Orangemen also held a 49-38 edge on the boards.
Duany chipped with 15 points, while Hakim Warrick and McNamara added 11 apiece for the Orangemen. But Boeheim pointed to the play off the bench of Josh Pace, who contributed 10 points and disrupted the Scarlet Knights with his defense.
"The difference of the game was Josh Pace coming in off the bench on the press," Boeheim said. "He really disrupted their rhythm."
"Josh Pace was the MVP of this game," Duany added.
Rutgers self-destructed with 22 turnovers and suffered its 12th straight Big East road loss. The Scarlet Knights went 0-8 on the road in conference play this season.
"It's been the same M.O. for the entire year," Waters said. "We played for about 30 minutes, then there's about five minutes where there's a letdown."
Sean Axani's dunk gave Rutgers a 24-12 lead with left in the first half. Syracuse tied the contest, 36-36, on McNamara's 3-pointer with 1:34 remaining in the half before Wright's layup with 1:02 to go gave the Scarlet Knights a 38-36 lead at the intermission.
Rutgers spurted again, taking a 54-42 lead on Axani's jumper with 13:47 to play but Anthony scored four points in an 11-second span to pull Syracuse within 56-53 with 11:35 left.
The Orangemen took the lead for good, 65-64, on Anthony's two free throws with 5:36 remaining.