SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Minutes after draining his emotions and big shot after big shot in an effort to upset No. 7 Syracuse, USF guard Dominique Jones was still trying to pick up his teammates.
"In the locker room, everybody was looking sad," Jones said. "I told them to pick their heads up. We did just lose to the No. 7 team in the country. They came out here; they kicked our butts. We're going to learn something from it."
Against a team such as the Orange, the No. 1 lesson should be how to lean into a mountain. That's what the frontcourt of Rick Jackson (6 feet 9), Wes Johnson (6-7) and Arinze Onuaku (6-9) looked like to the Bulls.
The three combined for 46 points and 21 rebounds to power Syracuse to an 82-65 win over USF on Sunday in front of 18,703 at the Carrier Dome.
Jones scored a season-high 30 for USF (10-5, 0-3 Big East), but that couldn't counter the Orange's inside power. Johnson had 19 points and 13 rebounds, while Jackson scored 15 and Onuaku 12.
"The game plan was to make it hard for them, push them out of position," said Bulls 6-11 center Jarrid Famous, who finished with 12 rebounds and nine points "It was too easy for them to get position inside. We didn't stay focused on what our main objective was."
Forward Mike Mercer scored 13, but USF didn't have the bulk or experience to match the Orange (15-1, 2-1) down low. And the Bulls have struggled inside without injured 6-foot-10, 245-pound Gus Gilchrist.
USF made it 19-17 with 9:09 left in the first half before the Orange went on a 21-11.
"They were getting us too deep on the block," Bulls coach Stan Heath said. "We didn't fight them in those areas like we should have. We didn't give them the resistance that we needed. It could be the strength they have. They got to where they wanted to be."
Even the loss of Onuaku to his fourth foul early in the second half didn't slow the Orange. Jackson's jumper made it 44-32 with 18:07 left, Johnson tossed in a pair of free throws, and another Jackson jumper boosted the Orange lead to 48-32 with 16:07 left.
"They played extremely well. That's the benefit of having a guy stick to me. It opens up things for the post," said Syracuse guard Andy Rautins, who scored eight. "They did a great job of gathering themselves and playing efficiently."
Jones, who shot 7-of-13 from the floor, did a passable impression of a one-man gang down the stretch, helping USF hang around late. But with the Bulls having no inside threat, he was relegated to taking charge.
"I don't like doing that," Jones said of taking all the offensive responsibility. "I'd love to end the game with 10 points and 10 assists. I'd like to see my teammates do well, too. Once we get all our weapons back, we'll look like a whole different team."
In his USF debut, guard Anthony Crater, a transfer from Ohio State, had no points in 25 minutes.