It wasn’t easy, but the #5 Orange (13-0, 1-0) remained undefeated with a 80-73 win against Seton Hall (9-3, 0-2) in its Big East opener at the sold-out Prudential Center on Tuesday, Dec. 29. It was Syracuse’s fourth straight win against the Pirates and its fifth in the last six meetings. The Orange faced a 12-point deficit in the first half, its largest of the season, but used a 14-2 run to close out the opening period and went on to extend its season-opening winning streak to 13 games. Syracuse also trailed by six midway through the second half before a 15-0 run gave the Orange a lead it never relinquished. Junior Wes Johnson and sophomore Kris Joseph combined for all 15 points in the game-clinching scoring spurt and 21 straight Orange points overall. The duo scored 24 of the team’s final 29 points in the contest. Johnson posted his third consecutive double-double with 20 points and career-high 19 rebounds. He played all 40 minutes for the first time in his career and was 8-for-16 from the field. Joseph finished with 16 points, one shy of his career high. He was 8-for-9 from the foul line and hit five free throws down the stretch to help secure the win. Senior Arinze Onuaku (12 points), senior Andy Rautins (10 points) and redshirt sophomore Scoop Jardine (10 points) were also in double-figures for the Orange. Syracuse led by six, 22-16, at the 10:34 mark of the first half, but the Pirates gained a 41-29 lead on the strength of a 25-7 run over the next six minutes. Jeremy Hazell keyed the stretch for Seton Hall with 13 points. Herb Pope also had six points in the run. However, the Orange regrouped and recorded 14 of the half’s final 16 points to tie the score, 43-43, at the intermission. Jardine had six points in the run and Mookie Jones added four, including a layup with three seconds left to knot the game at the break. After six back-and-forth minutes to begin the second half, the Pirates netted six consecutive points to take a 57-51 advantage with 12:54 to play. But Johnson and Joseph took over, outscoring Seton Hall 15-0 over the course of the next seven minutes to put Syracuse in front, 66-57. A 3-pointer by Hazell at the 5:43 mark snapped the Pirates’ scoring drought and drew the hosts within six. The Pirates eventually cut the lead to 73-70 with 31 seconds left before Joseph put an exclamation point on his performance with a 3-point play to extend the Orange margin to 76-70. Rautins notched the game’s last four points to produce the final score. Overall, Syracuse hit 8-of-9 free throws in the final 3:35 to help clinch the victory and was 19-for-26 (73.1 pct.) from the charity stripe in the game. Hazell finished with a game-high 38 points to lead Seton Hall. He hit six 3-pointers and was 12-for-31 from the field in the game. Pope registered a double-double with 15 points and a team-best 17 rebounds. No one else had more than six points for the Pirates. The Syracuse defense held Seton Hall to 18 points below its season average. The Pirates entered the game averaging 88.1 points per game, the second-best mark in the conference. But against the Orange zone, Seton Hall shot just 33.8 percent (26-77) for the game, including a 9-for-31 (29 percent.) showing in the second half. Tuesday’s game was the 1,100th for Orange head coach Jim Boeheim. He joined Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun as the only active Division I head coaches to be on the bench for at least 1,100 games. Boeheim is the only one of the three to achieve the feat at one school. The Orange continues conference play on Saturday, Jan. 2 when it hosts Pittsburgh in its Big East home opener at 12 p.m. in the Carrier Dome.