Boston College's last season in the Big East is turning out to be its best.
Craig Smith had 16 points and 15 rebounds to lead the sixth-ranked Eagles to a 65-60 victory over No. 9 Syracuse on Saturday night at Boston -- a matchup of top 10 teams that was one of the most anticipated basketball games in school history.
Jared Dudley, who scored 21 points for the Eagles (22-1, 11-1), dribbled out the final seconds and threw the ball in the air as the buzzer sounded and the sellout crowd stormed the court.
Jermaine Watson made five of six free throws down the stretch to hold off the Orange (22-5, 9-4), loser of four of its last six games, all to ranked teams.
Gerry McNamara scored 18 points for Syracuse, but he missed three long three-point shots in the final 28 seconds -- two of them airballs -- and was two of 11 from three-point range overall.
With four games to play, Boston College holds a two-game conference lead over No. 18 Connecticut, which beat Rutgers, 85-63, on Saturday night.
The Eagles lead Syracuse and No. 17 Pittsburgh by 2 1/2 games in the Big East, which the Eagles will be leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.
No. 1 Illinois 75, Iowa 65 -- The Illini (27-0, 13-0 Big Ten) survived foul problems, a determined opponent and a subpar game by leading scorer Luther Head to keep several streaks intact. They are off to their best start ever, have won 23 consecutive conference games and now have 14 consecutive road victories.
A solid effort wasn't quite enough for Iowa (16-9, 4-8), which fell to 1-4 since leading scorer Pierre Pierce was kicked off the team. The Hawkeyes trailed by two points with 4 1/2 minutes left before the Illini went on a 14-5 run to clinch the win.
No. 3 Kentucky 94, Mississippi State 78 -- The Wildcats (20-3, 11-1 Southeastern Conference) posted their highest point total of the season in a victory at Lexington, Ky., that extended their streak of 20-win seasons to 15 -- the 50th overall with at least 20 wins.
No. 4 North Carolina 88, Clemson 56 -- The Tar Heels (22-3, 10-2) routed the Tigers (12-13, 2-10) to move into a first-place tie with Wake Forest in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The loss left the Tigers 0-51 on the road in the series. Clemson's futility in Chapel Hill is the longest active losing streak in the country; Penn once won 52 consecutive home games over Brown for the all-time record.
No. 8 Oklahoma State 85, Texas Tech 56 -- JamesOn Curry scored 10 points during a 14-2 run that helped the Cowboys (20-3, 10-2) pull away early in the second half at Stillwater, Okla., and beat the Red Raiders (16-7, 8-4) to move into a tie for first place in the Big 12 Conference with Kansas.
No. 11 Michigan State 68, Purdue 57 -- The Spartans (19-4, 10-2 Big Ten) won their fifth in a row on the day retiring Purdue Coach Gene Keady was honored at West Lafayette, Ind. Michigan State limited the Boilermakers (7-16, 3-9) to 36.8% shooting.
No. 16 Alabama 87, South Carolina 68 -- The Crimson Tide (21-4, 10-2 SEC) started a 33-8 run in the final five minutes of the first half to turn a one-point game into an easy victory over the Gamecocks (14-9, 6-6) at Tuscaloosa, Ala.
No. 18 Connecticut 85, Rutgers 63 -- The Huskies (17-6, 9-3 Big East) used an early 26-5 run to take control at Piscataway, N.J., and hand the Scarlet Knights (8-15, 2-11) their third straight loss and 12th in 14 games.
No. 21 Oklahoma 69, Kansas State 68 -- Drew Lavender's basket at the buzzer accounted for the last two of his 29 points and gave the Sooners (19-6, 8-4 Big 12) the victory over the Wildcats (13-10, 3-9) at Manhattan. Kan. It took a hurried video review at the scorer's table to give them credit for the basket that ended their three-game road losing streak.
No. 22 Maryland 92, Virginia 89 -- John Gilchrist scored the go-ahead three-point basket for the Terrapins (16-8, 7-6 ACC) with 1:12 left in the second overtime at Charlottesville, Va.
The Cavaliers (13-1, 4-9) had a chance to tie the score with 18 seconds left in the second overtime, but Elton Brown missed two free throws, capping his three-for-13 showing from the line.
No. 23 Charlotte 86, Tulane 67 -- The win at New Orleans was the fifth in a row for the 49ers (19-4, 10-2), who tied No. 12 Louisville for first place in Conference USA. The Green Wave (9-14, 3-9) lost for the fourth time in five games.
No. 24 Cincinnati 72, Alabama Birmingham 69 -- The Bearcats (20-6, 8-4 Conference USA) had a nine-point lead cut to one in the final minute, but Armein Kirkland clinched the victory by making two free throws with 9.9 seconds left at Cincinnati. The Blazers (16-9, 6-6) have lost four in a row for the first time since the 2001-02 season.