SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- Arinze Onuaku scored a career-high 23 points and pulled down 12 rebounds, Donte Greene added 22 points, and Syracuse held off St. John's 76-70 in the Big East opener for both teams Wednesday night.
It was the fifth straight victory for Syracuse (11-3) and the third loss in four games for St. John's (6-6).
Jonny Flynn had 14 points and seven assists and Paul Harris had eight points and seven assists for the Orange, who shot 47.4 percent (27-for-57) and held St. John's to 38.7 percent (24-for-62). Freshman guard Scoop Jardine, in his fourth start in place of the injured Eric Devendorf, had seven points, four assists and four steals.
Freshman forward Justin Burrell had a season-high 21 points and also pulled down 12 rebounds to lead St. John's. Anthony Mason Jr. had 10 points, Larry Wright added nine, and Eugene Lawrence and D.J. Kennedy had seven points apiece.
Syracuse led nearly the entire game, once by 14 points in the first half, but was unable to put St. John's away until Onuaku took charge in the the closing minutes with Greene playing with four fouls.
After Mason, who sat for 10 minutes in the second half after picking up his fourth foul, hit a 3-pointer to move the Red Storm within 58-55 at 8:17, Onuaku hit a hook, a follow and a left-handed scoop off the glass to boost the Orange lead back to 68-61 with 4:50 remaining.
Two free throws by Flynn, a layup by Onuaku and a dunk by Greene off an alley-oop pass from Jardine made it 72-61 with 3:08 remaining. The Red Storm ran out of time after Wright drained a 3 to put St. John's within 73-68 with 40 seconds left.
The first half featured a big run by each team. Greene, who missed the first 3-pointer he tried, swished four of his next five 3s and also added a pair of baseline jumpers to key the Orange attack. Greene's 3 from the right corner and a follow by Onuaku completed a 14-0 Syracuse surge that gave the Orange a 19-6 lead at 14:21.
Undaunted, St. John's stormed back with a 14-4 spurt. Burrell, who had 14 points in the period, converted a follow slam after a miss by Malik Boothe to move the Red Storm within 28-24 at 6:34.
Just over a minute later, Greene's attempt at a one-handed slam dunk bounced high in the air off the back of the rim and Burrell grabbed the rebound and fed Boothe for a fast-break layup to move St. John's within 30-28.
Two mid-range jumpers by Harris, another 3 by Greene, and Flynn's 3-pointer from the left side at the buzzer gave Syracuse a 41-34 halftime lead.