Orange Muscles by Bulls at Home

It was ugly once again, but Syracuse found a way to win Wednesday against a resilient South Florida team - 56-48. Seniors Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph took over in crunch time to hold off the Bulls.

After a very slow start, Syracuse (28-1, 15-1 Big East) used an enormous run to pull ahead of South Florida (17-11, 10-5) late in the first half.

And it never looked back despite constant panic points down the stretch.

SU senior Scoop Jardine led all scorers with 15 points, but most of them came when SU needed it most.

"We've been in these games all year, and our veteran guys have made plays coming down the stretch for us," Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim said. "That's how you win these games."

The Bulls came out patient and willing on both ends of the floor – as expected – and it threw the Orange off initially. The early peak for USF was as it extended the early lead to 18-5 on the heels of an 11-0 run. The spurt was filled with easy buckets and mid-range jumpers.

However, after Anthony Collins nailed one with 8:52 left in the half, things would change.

Syracuse took it from there, utilizing turnovers and long rebounds to go on a staggering 17-0 run to close out the half. Jardine led the charge with a pair of big-time threes; with the second giving SU its first lead of the game at 21-20 with just over three minutes remaining in the half.

"We played really great when we needed to…but we need to get better," said Jardine. "We put a 26-point spurt on them, but we have to get easier shots and help each other.

"We really can't start out slow…"

Dion Waiters had book-end baskets during the run, getting to the rim with ease including on a three-point play to wrap-up the scoring in the opening 20 minutes.

Both teams found it hard to get consistent baskets, as each shot less than 40 percent in the first half although Syracuse managed eight more attempts than the patient South Florida offense.

The Orange picked up where it left off after the break, scoring the first nine points of the second half. By the time the Bills found a basket, their deficit was 33-20 and Syracuse had rattled off 26 straight points over a span on 11-plus minutes.

Jardine continued to be the offensive aggressor for Syracuse, scoring on consecutive fast breaks to help the lead balloon to 13. It would get to 14 before the night was over.

"Once you get a shot to go in for you, for any offensive player, that's how you get confident," said Jardine. "That's how you get going."

Still, the Bulls had another pair of runs left in them.

"We really, I thought, played great for that period of time," Boeheim said. "We established the lead and came out in the second half and really got off to a great start.

"Then we made three or four errors that we usually don't make."

The consecutive turnovers led to a 9-0 spurt featuring book-end Jawanza Poland buckets that got the game down to 36-31 with 13:46 to play. The Orange opened the lead back to double-digits over the next four minutes, but again the Bulls came back.

Four different South Florida players scored in a one-minute, 57-second span to close the gap to three points with 7:16 to play. After the ensuing timeout, Syracuse survived a Collins jumper that closed the gap to 47-46 by getting to the basket. Jardine converted a three-point play and Kris Joseph scored underneath on the following possession to push the margin out to six.

Collins got one to go on the other end, then Joseph scored by tipping in his own miss.

"Kris (Joseph) made two unbelievable rebound efforts – physical rebound efforts inside to get the ball back on his drives," said Boeheim. "He made the two plays of the game right there."

The consecutive plays pushed the lead back out to six, and the smothering Syracuse defense held South Florida scoreless the rest of the way as the Bulls heaved desperation threes at the basket.

"We been in situations like these this year," said Joseph. "We were able to tough this one out, and we're just looking forward to finishing out these last two games here (before the tournament)."

Center Fab Melo continued to establish his presence in the middle of the zone, helping to seal the deal for the Orange once again.

"I tried to go in and change the game," said Melo, who finished with six blocks and six rebounds. "I got two charges, I got blocked shots and I changed a lot of shots."

Syracuse travels to Connecticut on Saturday for the team's final road game of the season.

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