Syracuse showed tonight why many consider the Orangemen the premier team in the Big East and one of the best in the country.
Playing away from the Carrier Dome for the first time this season, before 12,129 at the Spectrum, fourth-ranked and undefeated Syracuse had 25 points from Rafael Addison, 20 points and 14 rebounds from center Rony Seikaly and a second-half resurgence by Dwayne (Pearl) Washington in a runaway 80-57 victory over Villanova.
"This was our first real test," Washington said, "to play on the road and see how we would react. It was an important game for us."
Granted, Villanova (9-7, 1-1 in the Big East) is a far cry from the team that beat Georgetown to win the NCAA title last spring. The Wildcats start four guards and a small forward, two of them freshmen.
Even so, it wasn't difficult to see how dominant Syracuse (12-0, 3-0) can be. Washington, who finished with 12 points, didn't score a point in the first half and had only one assist, but he assumed full control of the game during a stretch when Syracuse increased its lead from five to 17 points.
The Orangemen shot 65 percent in the second half, and Villanova made half that from the field after intermission, when the game was reasonably close.
It was surprising that Villanova trailed by only 31-25 at halftime. And Syracuse needed a late burst to build that margin.
But Seikaly scored two layups to start the second half, and the Orangemen were off to a 49-point half.
"The difference in the game, offensively, was our getting the ball inside to Rony," Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim said.
Seikaly, who never took a shot more than a step outside the lane, made 10 of 13. Addison, who took at least half of his 18 shots from the perimeter, made 12. With that kind of inside-outside excellence, it was no wonder Villanova just couldn't keep up.
To look at both teams is to see a 15-point Syracuse advantage. The Orangemen sent out the league's only real pivotman -- 6-foot-11 Seikaly -- against a Wildcats team that started no one taller than 6-7 Harold Pressley.
But the Orangemen started slowly tonight, just as they had in their 68-52 Big East-opening win over Boston College.
Despite the obvious physical superiority, Villanova outrebounded Syracuse, 37-35, and held a 17-15 edge at halftime.
The rebounding statistic wasn't as important as it might have been because Villanova also committed 24 turnovers and shot 37 percent for the game.
Freshman forward Doug West scored 13 to lead the Wildcats.