No. 3 Syracuse holds on late against No. 9 Florida

The Syracuse University men's basketball team, ranked No.3, fights off a late push by No. 9 University of Florida in the annual Big East-SEC Challenge to remain undefeated.

With less than four minutes remaining in the game, senior guard Scoop Jardine hit a critical 3-pointer to put No. 3 Syracuse (8-0, 6-0 home) up by 8 points in their biggest game so far this year. After that shot, No. 9 Florida (5-2, 2-2 road) was unable to come back and eventually fell 72-68 to the Orange Friday night at the Carrier Dome as part of the Big East-SEC Challenge.

Photo: Alyssa Stone
Scoop Jardine helps 'Cuse late in the game to pull out the win Friday night.

“I thought Scoop won the game for us,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said after the game. “He went in there and literally won the game.”

Not only did Jardine lead Syracuse to victory in front of 24,459 screaming fans, but he also became the 56th player in Syracuse basketball history to score 1,000 points in his collegiate career. He finished the night with 16 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals.

“I’m just happy,” Jardine said. “Not just happy because I got a thousand points, but we just beat a good basketball team in Florida.”

Up until Jardine’s shot at the 3:54 mark, Syracuse and Florida were fighting a close battle. In the first half, there were seven ties and five lead changes, and neither team was able to go up by more than 9 points.

Sophomore center Fab Melo began the game on fire for Syracuse, hitting seven of SU’s first 10 points. He finished the night with 9 points and 5 rebounds. Senior forward Kris Joseph and sophomore guard Brandon Triche then helped the Orange go up 31-27 at halftime.

After SU opened the second half with an 8-3 run, it looked as though the Orange would pull away from the Gators. However, Florida responded by going on an 11-2 run and eventually tied the game at 41-41 with 11:25 remaining thanks to a big 3-pointer by guard Kenny Boyton.

“They made shots,” Jardine said. “We knew they were great players that can make shots.”

During the next three minutes, Syracuse and Florida traded buckets until Joseph’s monster dunk put SU up 51-49. From that point on, Syracuse’s defense stopped Florida from hitting the big shots and coming back in the game. 

While this was a big win for the Orange, the offense struggled tonight despite the win. Syracuse shot 40.6 percent from the field and only 17.6 percent from 3-point range. 

“It doesn’t look like we would win this game with those numbers,” Boeheim said. “It’s shocking. Those numbers are important."

Even though the offense struggled as a whole, Jardine, Triche and Joseph had great nights. Triche had a team-high 20 points while Joseph finished with 14 points and 4 rebounds. 

C.J. Fair also had a good night coming off the bench. He scored 9 points and had a career and team high 11 rebounds.

“He just makes plays and he’s a real key guy,” Boeheim said.

Syracuse returns to action next Tuesday night at the Carrier Dome when they host the Marshall Thundering Herd (5-1, 2-0 road) at 7 p.m.


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