By JOHN WAWROW, Associated Press
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Scoop Jardine scored 15 points to help No. 2 Syracuse overcome a 13-point first-half deficit and beat South Florida 56-48 on Wednesday night.
Kris Joseph had 12 points and nine rebounds for the Orange (28-1, 15-1 Big East), who matched school records for most regular-season and conference victories — both set in 2009-10.
Anthony Collins scored 16 points for the Bulls, who endured a 12:33 stretch without a point spanning halftime. South Florida (17-11, 10-5) had a four-game winning streak snapped and dropped to 1-9 against Syracuse.
The game was decided in the final 5 minutes, with the Orange leading 47-46.
Jardine was fouled making a layup with 4:04 left. He completed the three-point play, and Joseph added two putbacks of his own misses to seal the win.
It was a game of back-and-forth runs.
South Florida took advantage of Syracuse's cold-shooting offense by opening an 18-5 lead 10:25 in when Augustus Gilchrist hit a 10-footer from the paint. After going 2-for-14 from the field, the Orange mounted a rally of their own, scoring 26 straight points.
The run began with Dion Waiters scoring in the post to cut the Bulls lead to 18-7 with 9:19 left in the first half. And it ended with Jardine scoring on the transition 2:05 into the second half to put the Orange ahead 33-20.
The Bulls weren't done.
After missing 13 consecutive attempts from the field, Hugh Robertson finally scored 2:33 into the second half. South Florida eventually cut the lead to 5 on two occasions, before going off on a 9-0 run, capped by Collins hitting a 10-footer from the paint with 6:25 left.
This marked only the second time this season the Orange have trailed by double digits. And the only other time that happened came in a 67-58 loss at Notre Dame on Jan. 21.
Syracuse has now won eight in a row since that loss.
The Orange wore their one-time only Nike-designed uniforms, designated for teams who have won a national title. The jerseys were gray — officially, platinum — with an orange stripe down each side.
And at first glance, the uniforms weren't the only thing looking unusual about the Orange through the first 10 minutes of the first half. They opened hitting two of their first 14 attempts, and trailed 18-5 after Augustus Gilchrist hit a 10-footer with 9:35 left in the period.
C.J. Fair finished with 13 points and was the only Orange player to hit a field goal — going 2-for-3 — before Waiters scored in the post with 9:19 left to prompt the run. Jardine hit a 3-point basket from at least 25 feet to give Syracuse momentum with 5:48, and the crowd erupted 90 seconds later when Jardine drove up the left wing on the transition and fed Kris Joseph for an alley-oop, to cut the Bulls lead to 20-18.
Syracuse was sluggish and stymied by an aggressive Bulls defense. And South Florida also set the pace in the offensive end with a patient halfcourt style.
Down 24-20 at the break, South Florida did hold an opponent to under 30 points in the first half for the 24th time in 28 games. And yet it was their lack of offense that cost the Bulls.
South Florida finished 20 of 52 from the field after opening 9 of 11.