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Florida Gators falter in first true test

Syracuse’s Arinze Onuaku and Florida’s Alex Tyus battle for 
a rebound in the first half.

Associated Press

Syracuse’s Arinze Onuaku and Florida’s Alex Tyus battle for a rebound in the first half.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The three wins to start the season were nice, a little confidence boost for when the schedule got a little tougher.

Beating Florida? That gives Syracuse a good indication of where it really stands.

Paul Harris had 18 points and 11 rebounds, Jonny Flynn scored 18 and Syracuse beat the No. 17 Gators 89-83 on Monday night in the semifinals of the CBE Classic.

"It was a big statement game coming against a ranked team," Flynn said. "We came out with a big 'W' on the road."

Syracuse (4-0) opened the season with easy wins over Le Moyne, Richmond and Oakland, shooting better than 50 percent while scoring more than 82 a game. The Orange had similar success against a much formidable opponent, picking apart Florida's zone with dribble drives and spot-up shooting from the perimeter.

The Gators (3-1), who play Washington tonight in the consolation game, made defense a priority in the offseason after finishing near the bottom of the SEC in several categories. Florida defended well in its first three games, forcing 23 turnovers a game and holding each opponent under 60 points.

But after beating up on Toledo, Bradley and Southern Utah, the Gators had a little more trouble with the bigger, faster Orange.

Syracuse repeatedly beat Florida off the dribble, penetrating the lane for easy layups or kickouts to shooters at the 3-point line. After using defense to get away with a poor shooting night against Southern Utah, the Gators couldn't find a way to stop Syracuse.

"We scored 64 points against Southern Utah, but we held them to 50," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "I know Southern Utah's talent level isn't at where Syracuse is, but I think when you start to start playing the type of teams like Syracuse, it's very difficult to expect to try to win giving up 89 points."

Syracuse shot 51 percent from the field and had 19 assists on 31 field goals, taking control with a big run early in the second half.

Alex Tyus had a career-best 24 points on 11-of-14 shooting and Nick Calathes 19 points for Florida.

Syracuse 89

No. 17 UF 83

Florida Gators falter in first true test 11/24/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 25, 2008 3:53pm]

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