SYRACUSE, New York (Ticker) -- Syracuse is learning how to adjust, no matter who's on the floor.
With the 25th-ranked Orangemen missing one of their best players, big men Jeremy McNeil and Terrence Roberts provided unexpected sparks off the bench in a 63-61 Big East Conference victory over Rutgers.
Syracuse was without sophomore guard Billy Edelin, their second-leading scorer who missed the game for undisclosed reasons. The team is expected to make an announcement on his status Wednesday.
"You just have to adjust to the situation," said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, whose team had lost four of five games. "Guys get hurt all the time. In this game, you just have to adjust."
While Edelin averages 13.8 points per game, McNeil and Roberts totaled 10 points, five rebounds, three blocks and a steal in 31 minutes off the bench. And most of their damage came when the Orangemen needed it the most.
After Boeheim went to a full-court press, Syracuse forced a turnover and Roberts followed a miss by Hakim Warrick with a dunk to get the Orangemen within 43-42 with 11:10 remaining.
McNeil blocked Sean Axani on Rutgers' ensuing possession and later scored inside to tie it at 46-46 with 7:41 to play.
After Ricky Shields, who hit six 3-pointers and scored 20 points to lead Rutgers, missed a driving layup, Josh Pace followed his own miss to give Syracuse the lead for good, 48-46, with 7:19 left.
Shields then misfired from the arc and Roberts made a pair of free throws for a 50-46 lead. McNeil added another block on big man Herve Lamizana and later made two free throws for a 52-48 lead with 4:54 to go.
Following a free throw by Rutgers freshman Juel Wiggan, McNeil dunked again off a feed from Gerry McNamara to make it 54-49 with 4:16 remaining. He wouldn't have been in the game if 7-footer Craig Forth didn't get into foul trouble.
"Craig was rolling early, I just wanted to keep it going," McNeil said. "I was glad I was able to help."
The 6-8 McNeil had six points - 2.8 more than his season average - along with two rebounds, three blocks and a steal in 17 minutes. The 6-9 Roberts added four points - 1.5 above his average - and three boards in 14 minutes.
"We went with a bigger lineup and we were able to get away with it tonight," Boeheim said. "Jeremy has made big plays for us for two or three years. We have to have this from him the rest of the season."
The Scarlet Knights got within 54-52 on a 3-pointer by Marquise Webb with 3:44 remaining, but McNamara answered with one of his own less than a minute later to restore the five-point lead.
The lead was three when McNamara missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 42 seconds to play, but freshman sharpshooter Quincy Douby missed a 3-pointer at the other end. Douby was off again after Warrick missed a free throw with 24 seconds to play.
"The door was open for us, we just didn't close it," said Rutgers coach Gary Waters, whose team shot 29 percent from the field (18-of-62), 30 percent from 3-point range (9-of-30).
Lamizana and Webb combined for 25 points, 16 rebounds and six assists. Lamizana added three blocks for the Scarlet Knights, who have dropped two straight following a four-game conference winning streak.