SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Jim Boeheim stood at the center of the Carrier Dome court that bears his name, smiling broadly following his 800th victory.
"I appreciate you all staying up so late. It's way past my bedtime," the 65-year-old Hall of Fame coach told the crowd after his milestone triumph late Monday night, a 75-43 victory over Albany in the 2K Sports Classic. "I'd like to thank all the fans who make this the best place in the country to play basketball."
Boeheim, whose first victory was 75-48 over Harvard on Nov. 26, 1976, became the eighth Division I coach to reach 800 wins. Bob Knight leads the career list with 902 victories. Only Mike Krzyzewski (833), Jim Calhoun (804) and Boeheim are active among those who have reached 800.
Krzyzewski, who had Boeheim as an assistant on the U.S. Olympic gold medal-winning team in Beijing last year, offered a video tribute afterward.
"I wish I had been there tonight," he said. "You're as good a guy that's coached the game."
After the final buzzer, Boeheim received a framed jersey with No. 800 stitched on it and a montage of highlights of Boeheim's career was played on the video boards hanging above the court.
"Obviously, it's a great milestone for a coach to get," said Boeheim, who led the Orange (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today) to the 2003 national championship. "I'm proud of all the players that we had."
Boeheim established an NCAA Division I record in 2008-09 with his 31st season with at least 20 wins. He has 800 in 1,088 games, including a record 356 wins in the Big East.
In Division I, only Jim Phelan at Mount St. Mary's (1,354) and Dean Smith at North Carolina (1,133) have coached more games at one school. And only Smith (879), Kentucky's Adolph Rupp (876) and Phelan (830) have more wins at one school.
The Orange's first regular-season game without its top three scorers from last season -- Jonny Flynn, Paul Harris and Eric Devendorf, who all departed -- was a big improvement over their second and final exhibition game.
A week ago, Syracuse allowed 50 second-half points in a stunning 82-79 loss to crosstown foe LeMoyne, a Division II school. Against Albany, Syracuse's defense excelled and its big men thrived inside.
Boeheim said the LeMoyne game helped focus his attention to the job as the season-opener loomed.
"When you wait so long, we tried not to think about it," he said. "It kind of took our focus off that [win No. 800] with the way we played in our last exhibition game."
Rick Jackson finished with 10 points for the Orange and Johnson added eight rebounds, four assists and six steals in his Syracuse debut after transferring from Iowa State.
In a dominant first half, Syracuse held a 30-6 edge in the paint, scored 19 points off 20 turnovers, and had 14-0 edge in fastbreak points. Albany, which shot 24 percent and was 3 of 14 (21.4 percent) from beyond the arc in the first half, finished with a school Division I-record 32 turnovers.
"We were like a deer in the headlights. We froze," Albany coach Will Brown said. "They really extended their zone and it bothered us. It seemed like it was contagious. Once we started turning it over, everybody started turning it over."
It was sort of baptism under fire for Albany freshman point guard Mike Black. He started in place of senior Mike Johnson, who was suspended for the first two games of the season. Brown said he instructed Black to get the ball inside, to little avail.
"You've got to get the ball to the high post," Brown said. "He said, 'Coach, I can't see the high post.'"
Syracuse set the tone early as Jackson and Onuaku, both 6-foot-9, each scored twice inside to build an 8-0 lead just over 2 minutes in.
After Ambrose hit a 3 from the left wing to move the Great Danes within 9-7 at 14:15, Jardine's three-point play started a 9-0 run capped by a one-handed slam dunk by Joseph on a fast break.
Jardine, who sat out last season with a leg injury, followed his lob to Joseph with a fastbreak layup off a steal by Andy Rautins to boost the lead to 22-10 midway through the half.
The Great Danes trailed 38-20 at halftime and fell behind by as many as 28 points.
Rautins, the Orange's top outside threat last season, missed all six shots he attempted and left the game with 14:25 left after rolling his left ankle. A Syracuse native, he still was thrilled to be present on such a special night.
"It's great to see him reach that milestone," Rautins said. "For us to be on the floor and be able to get it for him is something I'll remember forever."