NEW YORK (Ticker) - Syracuse looked right at home playing at Madison Square Garden.
Hakim Warrick started slow, but scored 22 points and Gerry McNamara added 19 as No. 7 Syracuse posted an easy 79-65 victory over St. John's in the Big East Conference opener for both teams.
Warrick struggled in his last game at the Garden, with just 13 points, as the Orange suffered their only loss of the season to then-No. 5 Oklahoma State at the Jimmy V. Classic, December 7.
Playing for the fourth time at the Garden this year and in front of a partisan crowd, the Orange (14-1, 1-0 Big East) took control of the game late in the first half.
Trailing by one point, Syracuse went on an 10-0 run to take 35-26 lead when Warrick converted a three-point play with 2:06 remaining in the half.
"They are a really good team," St. John's coach Norm Roberts said. "I thought we did a good job competing. Warrick is a terrific player. He can manufacture offense, when there is no offense."
Coming off its best outing of the season in the championship game of the Dreyfus Holiday Festival against then-No. 15 North Carolina State, St. John's went without a basket in the final seven minutes of the half and trailed, 37-28.
"The game turned at the end of the first half when we had a great defensive effort," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "Craig (Forth) doesn't get a lot of recognition, except the negative kind. But he was really big for our zone."
The Orange shot 60 percent (15-of-25) in the first half. Josh Pace led a balanced attack by hitting all five of his shots for 10 points, while Warrick and McNamara scored eight apiece.
Five minutes into the second half, Syracuse pushed its lead to 15 when New York City-native Louie McCroskey nailed a 3-pointer to give the Orange a 49-34 lead.
"I thought Louie was tremendous," Boeheim said. "He made two big ones to get us out front. I thought he did a good job on defense. We have a lot of young guys, who are on the verge of having big games."
St. John's battled back and cut Syracuse's lead to eight before Lamont Hamilton picked up his fourth foul midway through the second half.
With Hamilton on the bench, Syracuse went on a 10-2 spurt. McNamara nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key, for a 63-45 lead, which led the crowd to chant, "Let's Go Orange" during the television timeout.
McNamara, who made five 3-pointers, hit another one as the Orange opened its biggest lead, 72-50, with 4:58 remaining.
"Gerry looked to spot up and hit the three very well," Boeheim said. "I thought we played very well. Our defense was good, and offensively, we got the ball to the right places. I thought we were unselfish and we moved the ball real well."
Pace ended with 12 points and McCroskey scored 11, as Syracuse won its seventh consecutive game and its 36th straight against a New York State opponent.
"They played hard," Boeheim added. "We are just a little more experienced and got more offensive production tonight. The weaker teams in the league turn out to be not so weak."
Daryll Hill, the Most Valuable Player at last week's Holiday Festival, tied a season-high with 23 points for St. John's (6-5, 0-1). Hamilton finished with 20 before fouling out with 64 seconds remaining.
"I was proud of my guys. They really competed," Roberts said. "I thought Darryll did a good job (and) Lamont is getting better ever single game. He really battled."