TAMPA – An upset of No. 7 Syracuse was up for grabs, but
the Orange kept things just out of reach in the Bulls' Big East opener.
A 43-26 rebounding advantage paid dividends for a
Syracuse team that shot just 36 percent in a 55-44 victory over the Bulls
before an announced crowd of 10,024. USF (9-4) saw its four-game winning streak get
snapped despite shooting better than the Orange from the field. A challenge for
the Bulls was establishing a rhythm while getting outboarded, 23-6, on the offensive
"We beat them in every offensive percentage area, but the
offensive rebounds were ridiculous," USF head coach Stan Heath said. "Their
size, their quickness and their length just gave them so many opportunities
than we had, and that was the huge difference in the game."
Brandon Triche led three Syracuse players in double
figures with 20 points and C.J. Fair had 10 points and 10 rebounds in Jim
Boeheim's 904th career victory that he definitely wasn't impressed
with. Syracuse shot 27 percent in the second half and Boeheim was not shy about
his displeasure with the Orange's season-low scoring performance.
"I've never seen a worse offensive performance in, I can't
remember," Boeheim said. "... Our offense was really bad, that's all I can tell
USF jumped out to a 17-7 lead to start the game, sparked
by nine points by Victor Rudd, but the Bulls were on the comeback trail after
Brandon Triche gave Syracuse its first lead with 3:26 to go before the half.
"I think we just got comfortable," said Rudd, who posted
15 points and 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season.
The Bulls did make things a bit uncomfortable for
Syracuse before it improved to 14-1 (2-0 in Big East). A
3-pointer by Jawanza Poland cut USF's deficit to 47-42 with 6:22 to play, but the
Bulls went without a field goal until Poland added a layup with 38 seconds left
to get up to 12 points.
"We just couldn't cut into (the lead)," Heath said. "If
we could have just made a shot or made a play the game would have been tighter
and who knows what would have happened."
Boeheim noted that Syracuse was determined to shut down Anthony
Collins after he posted 12 points and 10 assists in last season's close win
over the Bulls and the Orange had a little better luck the second time around.
Collins recorded seven of USF's 10 assists while the Bulls just couldn't get
anything going on the offensive end down the stretch.
"They're tall and they're good at their (2-3) zone. If
you pass up a good shot, you may not get another one," Collins said. "I think
we passed up a couple of them."
The Bulls will look to rebound in Big East play 8 p.m.
Wednesday when they host Villanova back at the Sun Dome.
"There are more tough games to come, so you can't dwell
on this loss," Rudd said.