Post presence leads Orange past Bulls, 89-77
Here's our game story for Sunday's paper from Andrew Zivic, who covered Saturday's game for the Times.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse’s size and athleticism gave USF trouble all game long and it was the deciding factor in the Bulls’ first Big East Conference loss of the year. USF allowed 25 second-chance points to Syracuse in an 89-77 loss.
After Dominique Jones hit a 3-pointer to make the game 26-25, Syracuse went on an 8-0 run and then kept the Bulls (10-5, 1-1) at arm’s length for the rest of the game. They were able to do so because of a size advantage down low which led to 31 fast-break points on top of all the second chance points.
“We really never faced a team that has that much size and athleticism this year,” USF coach Stan Heath said. “We haven’t seen anybody that has that imposing of a front line.”
With Syracuse controlling the boards and most of the play underneath, guards Jones and Chris Howard led the way for South Florida. The freshman Jones played the whole game for USF in his first Big East road game and scored 23 points to lead the Bulls.
“I thought he did a great job in the first half of really just keeping us in the game," Heath said. "He’s certainly not playing like a freshman.”
Howard had a career-high 19 points, 12 of them in the second half. Most of his points came around the basket as he worked to find seams in Syracuse’s zone.
The Orange (12-3, 2-0) also played a lot of man-to-man defense in the first half to switch things up against USF. It worked as Syracuse built up a 14-point halftime lead while playing mostly man-to-man.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was most impressed with the way Arinze Onuaku played when he was matched up one-on-one against Kentrell Gransberry.
“I think (Onuaku) did a good job. He kept (Gransberry) down and made him take shots over him,” Boeheim said.
Gransberry had his eighth double-double of the season for USF with 14 points and 13 rebounds but it was a tough go for him against Syracuse’s big frontline. He said it wasn’t just Onuaku that made things tough on him.
“They did a great job of switching defenses,” Gransberry said. “I wouldn’t say it was one person, it was just me getting the ball and getting more touches to go against that 2-3 zone. It wasn’t nearly one person stopping me.”
On the other end of the floor, USF’s defense had no answer for Syracuse. They even tried a triangle-and-two, but they couldn’t slow Syracuse down. All five of the Orange’s starters scored in double figures and they shot over 50 percent from the field.
Donte Greene and Paul Harris led Syracuse with 21 and 20 points, respectively. They both had a few thunderous dunks which brought the crowd of 18,860 people to its feet. Harris finished with 13 rebounds as well for a double-double. Onuaku also had a double-double for the Orange with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
USF will look to be tougher on defense as it continues Big East play. The Bulls return home for their next game against Pittsburgh on Wednesday.