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January 6, 2013

Syracuse clamps down on Bulls 3-point shooting

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TAMPA -- In an electric atmosphere before a sold-out crowd of 10,024 fans, the USF Bulls came out and tamed the No. 7-ranked Syracuse Orange for the first 16 minutes of the game.

Then, as quickly as USF found the shooting range from beyond the three-point line, the Bulls lost it and went the last 4:45 of the first half without scoring. Syracuse, on the other hand, went on a 12-0 run to take a 30-23 lead at the intermission, en route to a 55 to 44 win at the SunDome.

Twice in the second half, the Bulls climbed within five - but were unable to get any closer. Ill-timed turnovers and costly misses from the free throw line plagued USF in its first Big East loss of the season. The Bulls scored four points down the final 8:46

USF's patient approach to the game seemed to pay off early. Milking the shot clock for all but the final few seconds before taking shots - and working the ball inside to Victor Rudd (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Jawanza Poland (12 points, 6 rebounds) worked well early - but once Syracuse adjusted its 2-3 zone, the inside game was ineffective down the stretch.

Of course, it didn't help that the Bulls also went cold from the arc and the free throw line.

Once Syracuse guard Brandon Triche (20 points) and James Southerland (17 points, 8 rebounds) got going, the Orange were able to stay in their clamp-down zone and wait for USF to go cold.

The Bulls obliged, missing from both long-range and point-blank.

It did not help that USF also committed 16 turnovers and were outrebounded 19 to 6 on the offensive boards, and 45-26 overall. Too many second-chance opportunities eventually cost USF.

C.J. Fair also added 10 points for the Orange. "That's a very good basketball team, they can beat you in so many ways," said. USF head coach Stan Heath. "Neither team shot very well. The biggest challenge for us was to keep them off the boards."

USF shot 40 percent from the field (16-40) while Syracuse shot 36.5 percent (23-63). After starting the game 3-3 from the three-point play line, USF finished 3-19 to shoot 27 percent (6-22).

"Their zone kept Anthony (Collins) from getting penetration and we went cold," said Heath.

USF will play Villanova on Wednesday at the SunDome.



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