No. 7 Syracuse 85, No. 10 Florida 73

California, North Carolina and now Florida.

It doesn’t matter which ranked team Syracuse plays, the

seventh-ranked Orange seem to have all the answers during an

impressive run to start the season.

“With all the problems you can have in the world, we don’t have

a lot right now,” coach Jim Boeheim said Thursday night after

Syracuse remained unbeaten with an 85-73 victory over No. 10

Florida in the SEC/Big East Invitational.

“We’ll probably encounter some problems,” Boeheim added. “But

right now, we don’t have a lot.”

Rick Jackson scored a career-high 19 points and grabbed 11

rebounds, Andy Rautins had 18 points and Wes Johnson finished with

17 points and 10 rebounds for Syracuse (9-0) in its ninth

double-digit victory.

The Orange beat Cal by 22 points, defeated defending national

champion North Carolina by 16 and pulled away in the closing

minutes against a Florida team that looks like it is capable of

making some noise in the Southeastern Conference this season.

Reserve Kris Joseph contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds

against the previously unbeaten Gators (8-1).

“I think these early games like this, when you play really good

teams, the things you don’t do well in a particular game generally

get really, really exposed,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said.

“Some things that I think came out to light, transition defense,

rebounding.”

Syracuse led most of the game, but the Gators stayed close by

making 12 3-pointers in 30 attempts.

Kenny Boynton made five 3s and led the Gators with 20 points and

seven assists. Chandler Parsons scored 19 and Erving Walker added

14.

“Just based on what I’ve seen with Syracuse, they are capable

of winning a national championship,” Donovan said.

“I haven’t seen everybody play, but I would be hard pressed to

say that there’s three or four teams better than them. I think they

have everything. They’ve got a low post presence. They rebound.

They shoot the 3. They’re an unselfish team. They can turn you

over. They can beat you in a lot of different ways.”

Neither team was ranked when the season began, but both quickly

worked their way into the Top 10.

Syracuse thumped Cal and North Carolina in the Coaches vs.

Cancer at Madison Square Garden to serve notice that the Orange

might be better than anticipated. Florida raised eyebrows by

knocking off Florida State and upsetting Michigan State on the way

to just the third 8-0 start in school history.

Jackson had 16 points and, just as important, seven offensive

rebounds in the first half. The 6-foot-9 junior only took one shot

after halftime, finishing 8 of 12 while Johnson and Rautins

asserted themselves offensively.

Johnson scored 13 second-half points and Rautins made a

3-pointer that helped the Orange pull away for good after Florida

had wiped out a 10-point deficit.

“When we needed to make plays, when they came back at us, we

made those big plays and got some space,” Boeheim said. “But this

is a tough team for us to play against.”

The Orange twice built leads of 10 points, only have Florida

battle back. The Gators made five 3-pointers in a 15-3 burst that

turned a 54-44 deficit into a 59-57 lead. Walker made three in a

row during the run, and Boynton and Parsons had one each.

The Orange regrouped, with Rautins and Johnson making 3-pointers

to began a 16-4 surge that restored the double-digit lead at 73-63.

Boynton hit another long 3 to try to spark another rally, but the

closest the Gators would get down the stretch was 73-69 on two free

throws by Parsons with 3:24 to go.

Syracuse closed the game on a 12-4 run. The 12-point margin of

victory was the smallest for the Orange this season. The previous

low was an 88-73 win over Cornell.

“We knew we had a challenge in New York with Cal and North

Carolina,” Boeheim said. “We knew it would be a challenge coming

down here. … This was a tremendous win, given the way they’ve

played.”