SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- A quick look at the marquee matchup of the Big East/SEC Challenge, No. 3 Syracuse's 72-68 win over No. 9 Florida on Friday night at the Carrier Dome:
Star of the game: Scoop Jardine. Last week in New York, SU's senior guard was replaced at times by Dion Waiters for some energy and scoring off the bench. Against the Gators, Jardine hit a number of key shots, including a 3-pointer with just less than four minutes to give the Orange an eight-point lead. Jardine showed his experience by handling the Florida guards and coming up with timely shots. He finished with 16 points (6-10 FG), seven assists and four steals.
What worked for Syracuse: The Orange's length is always going to be a difference-maker. The Gators had issues with getting the ball inside and consistently finding Patric Young, who wasn't all that effective. What was effective was the Orange working their break, using it to change the momentum on several occassions. The Orange had the versatility to go to different scorers, but that also meant they lacked the hot hand on a consistent basis.
What worked for Florida: The Gators relied heavily on perimeter shooting. Mike Rosario was off early, but Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton picked up later. Had the 3s not fallen -- nine in total -- the Gators wouldn’t have been able to hang with Syracuse. The Gators will have to have more of an inside presence to be a factor nationally, though.
What didn’t work for the Orange: Syracuse still has to work on being patient. SU was shoot-happy at times, and that allowed Florida back in the game. The Orange also were just 3-of-17 (18 percent) from beyond the arc.
What didn’t work for the Gators: Taking care of the basketball was an issue for the Gators. Florida had way too many turnovers (20) on the road. The UF guards alone had 14 turnovers to just nine assists.
At the half: In the first half, Florida became too much of a perimeter-shooting team (made just three of 14) because the Gators couldn’t get much inside due to Young's foul trouble. UF also was careless with the basketball, committing 10 first-half turnovers and coming away with empty possessions. The Orange relied on their ability to create spurts with Fab Melo finishing inside or Brandon Triche and Kris Joseph making key shots to hold off any Florida run.
Give Florida credit: The scheduling wasn’t all done by coach Billy Donovan, but the Gators are playing three true nonconference road games for the first time in his tenure, already having gone to Ohio State and with a road game at Rutgers still to come. This is the first time the Gators have played two top-10 nonconference teams on the road under Donovan.
Odds and ends: Syracuse is 8-0 for the fourth straight season. ... Under Donovan, Florida is now 0-8 on the road against top-5 teams. ... Over the past three seasons, the Orange are 9-2 against teams ranked in the top 10. ... In each of their first six games of the season, the Gators managed to connect on at least 11 3-pointers. They didn't get there Friday, hitting on nine of 26 shots from beyond the arc.
What’s next: Florida hosts Arizona on Wednesday, and the hope is that forward Erik Murphy will be healthy. He suffered a bone bruise, not a torn meniscus. The fear was that Murphy could be out four to six weeks. Donovan said earlier Friday that Murphy would have greatly helped bust the Orange zone with his face-up ability. Meanwhile, next up for Syracuse is a Tuesday home game against potential C-USA contender Marshall, which already has one road win against the Big East (Cincinnati).