Syracuse avoided its longest losing streak under coach Jim Boeheim with an impressive performance against one of the nation’s elite teams.
The Orange should figure to have an easier time with South Florida.
No. 17 Syracuse looks to continue building some momentum as they face the Bulls at St. Pete Times Forum on Saturday.
The Orange (19-4, 6-4 Big East) were on the cusp of their first five-game losing streak in 42 years, but avoided it with a 66-58 win at sixth-ranked Connecticut on Wednesday.
“This was a game we had to find a way to win,” said Boeheim, who is in his 35th season with Syracuse. “We made the plays we had to. We played well but we also played well at Marquette. That’s the league. You have to do that every night. This league is very, very difficult.”
Syracuse has won six of seven all-time meetings with the Bulls, including an 82-65 victory Jan. 10, 2010.
Rick Jackson could make the difference again after totaling 13 points and 13 rebounds against the Huskies for his 15th double-double this season.
The senior forward leads the conference with 11.5 rebounds per game and 58.1 percent shooting. His 13.2 points rank second on the team.
Jackson scored 15 points with four boards in the most recent matchup with South Florida.
While Jackson provides a powerful presence under the basket, Syracuse would like improved efforts from forward Kris Joseph and guard Scoop Jardine.
The duo combined for 18 points while making 5 of 22 shots Wednesday.
Joseph leads the Orange with an average of 15.0 points while Jardine’s 12.7 is third but ranks second in the Big East with 6.0 assists per game.
If Jardine struggles again, Brandon Triche could be a factor. The sophomore guard matched his season high of 16 points Wednesday and is averaging 12.8 over the last eight games.
Triche had 10 points, six rebounds and five assists against the Bulls last season.
South Florida is trying to snap a seven-game losing streak against ranked opponents, with five defeats coming this season. The team beat then-No. 7 Georgetown on the road Feb. 3, 2010.
“Wins are wins and we’ll take a win against anybody,” coach Stan Heath said. “A team like Syracuse that has that kind of tradition and they’re ranked nationally, an upset like that does a lot for a young team. It really boosts their confidence. Hopefully, inspires them that they can do things at a different level.”
The Bulls hit their conference-high average of 16 turnovers in Wednesday’s 68-63 loss at Providence.
Jarrid Famous is expected to return from a back injury that forced him to miss Wednesday’s defeat. The senior forward-center is averaging 8.8 points and 5.8 rebounds.
He grabbed 12 boards and scored nine points in the latest meeting with Syracuse.
Augustus Gilchrist, the team leader with 12.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, has made 6 of 25 shots to total 19 points with 19 rebounds over the last two games.