Syracuse 70, South Florida 53
TAMPA, Fla. (AP)—Darryl Watkins had 17 points and Andy Rautins came off the bench to score 15 Wednesday night, helping Syracuse overcome cold shooting and pull away to a 70-53 victory over South Florida.
The Orange (18-8, 7-5) won easily, dominating the final 15 minutes despite getting little offensive production from Demetris Nichols, the Big East’s leading scorer at just over 19 per game.
Nichols, coming off scoring a career-high 37 in a two-point victory over St. John’s, was held to eight points. He missed his first five shots and was scoreless until his 3-pointer with 14:24 remaining fueled Syracuse’s 32-15 game-ending run.
Kentrell Gransberry led South Florida (12-14, 3-9) with 17 points and 12 rebounds, however the 6-foot-9 center was held to just four points in the second half. Melvin Buckley also scored 17 for the Bulls, who lost for the third straight time since upsetting Notre Dame 69-63 to knock the Irish out of the Top 25.
Nichols was 0-for-4 in the opening half, but Syracuse led 32-31 at the break despite shooting 33.3 percent and not getting any scoring out of its leading scorer, who finished 2-of-8 from the field.
The Orange heated up in the second half, going 12-for-20 (60 percent) and methodically pulling away.
With Nichols struggling, Rautins took up the slack with five 3-pointers. Eric Devendorf scored 13 for Syracuse.