Slick Rick livens Orange dance

Syracuse post Rick Jackson hosted his own coming-out party Thursday night in Tampa, Fla., two-stepping around the basket like that famous Philadelphia high school pivot.

Orange forward Rick Jackson did his best Wilt Chamberlain impersonation, posting a career-best 21 points to go along with a team-high 13 rebounds in No. 6 Syracuse’s 85-73 win over No. 11 Florida in the SEC/Big East Challenge.

“(The Gators) were doubling Arinze (Onuaku) and they were focusing on Andy and Wes,” Jackson told Donna Ditota of The Post-Standard. “I just felt like they forgot about me. So I just had to take advantage of it.” Check out Ditota’s coverage.

Simple basketball is the Orange mantra in 2009-10, starting the offense by feeding the post before working the ball outside for jumpers or dribble-drives. Admittedly, SU head coach Jim Boeheim views Jackson as one of the last options.

“I told Rick, ‘We’re not going to throw you the ball at all,’” said Boeheim on Thursday night, “just go get it.”

Jackson got his juice flowing on the backboards, accounting for seven of the 16 Orange offensive rebounds (game box score). “I just focus on rebounding. Every time it came off, it felt like I could get it.”

Jackson, a product of the Philadelphia high school Catholic League, has flourished this season under, and around, the rim. Similar (not a direct comparison, mind you) to the basketball ballet Chamberlain perfected generations ago, Jackson is using his southpaw semi-hook to keep shot blockers at bay. All the footwork before receiving the ball (finding holes in the defensive rotation and creating a wide target for passes) produces his high shooting percentage (66.1% thru Thursday night).

“He’s a sneaky left-hander,” said Boeheim. “He sneaks around under there.”

THEY SAID IT: “That’s why we can’t feel each other’s pulse,” said Charlie Coles head basketball coach at Miami (Ohio) during an inspirational pre-game speech to his team before facing Cincinnati on Thursday night.

“It's almost like he’s being guarded by Taylor Swift,” said Jimmy Dykes of ESPN about Rick Jackson during the SU/UF broadcast Thursday.

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