Gators Close in Losing to #4 Syracuse

Syracuse (8-0) breezed to its first seven wins with an average margin of victory of 26 points, but the Gators (5-2), whose only previous loss was by seven at No. 2 Ohio State, figured to provide a stiff challenge and they did in a game that seemed like a midseason encounter in the Big East. in the end, Syracuse was just too much for Florida and won the contest 72-68.

Brandon Triche had 20 points and Scoop Jardine finished with 16 and seven assists for the Orange. Kenny Boynton led Florida with 22 points and Erving Walker had 17.

Neither team led by more than six points in a first half that was tied six times.

Florida, which entered the game shooting 42.9 percent from beyond the arc and was averaging 12 3-pointers a game, went 3 of 14 from long range in the period — all by Erving Walker — while the Orange struggled even more, hitting just 1 of 10.

Syracuse still managed to forge ahead at the break, 31-27, behind seven points each from Kris Joseph, Fab Melo and Triche.

After the Orange built a 39-30 lead early in the second, Boynton led the Gators back with three 3s, the last putting Florida back on top 49-46 with 9:19 to go. Triche tied it for the fourth time in the period 11 seconds later with his first 3 of the game.

Jardine fed Joseph for a one-handed slam to break the tie and Jardine's steal and layup had the Orange up 54-49 with 6:20 to go and the crowd shaking the Carrier Dome.

The roar reached another crescendo when Jardine hit a runner in the lane as the shot clock neared zero, Joseph fed C.J. Fair for a baseline jumper, and Jardine hit a 3 from the left wing in a span of 2:19.

That gave Syracuse a 61-53 lead with 3:52 left and the Gators couldn't rally back.


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