SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - Bruiser Flint tried to warn his Drexel Dragons - to no avail. Syracuse was ready for the rematch.
Kris Joseph had a career-high 25 points, Scoop Jardine scored 21 and Rick Jackson had his ninth double-double of the season as the fifth-ranked Orange remained unbeaten with a 93-65 victory over Drexel on Wednesday night.
Four years ago, Drexel surprised 23rd-ranked Syracuse 84-79 for its first win over a ranked team since 1996, and last week the Dragons dropped then-No. 20 Louisville out of the national rankings with a 52-46 win on the road.
Drexel was riding a six-game winning streak, but visions of another upset were dashed early by Jardine and Jackson, who are from Philadelphia and weren't about to let the Dragons spoil the holidays.
``It feels good going home for break, seeing some familiar faces and having bragging rights,' said Jackson, who finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and five blocks. ``We did a good job finding shooters and getting them off their spots in the first half.'
It was the final nonconference game for Syracuse (13-0), which begins Big East play Tuesday at home against Providence. Drexel (8-2) hadn't lost since a 74-68 setback at Rhode Island in the third game of the season.
``We played on our heels,' Flint said. ``We were 8-1 coming in, and it wasn't like we hadn't been in an atmosphere like that. We just weren't ready to compete. We stargazed a little bit. I told those guys, 'We ain't sneaking up on them. Yo, dude, these guys are going to be ready. The coaches remember the last time we was here and we just beat a team in that league that was ranked last week. Dude, these guys are going to come ready to play. You're going to get their best hit.''
After missing five of its first six shots, Syracuse gave Drexel about as big a hit as possible. The Orange made 27 of their next 35 shots, putting the game well out of reach by hitting 18 of their first 20 in the second half.
``I told them we're playing well, but I told them we're going to have to play as well or better,' Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. ``We're in as good a position as we can be right now. We played tremendously for 34 or 35 minutes. It takes time for a team to come together.'
The Orange shot 71.9 percent in the second half and outrebounded the Dragons 38-27 in the game. Drexel entered with a rebound margin of 14.2, second in the country.
Chris Fouch, Drexel's leading scorer at nearly 20 points per game, took only three shots in the first half and scored two points. He finished with 14.
``They were standing right next to him the whole time,' Flint said. ``That first half, they pretty much said, 'Throw it into the interior.' They blocked some shots and got some layups off them. That was it.'
Gerald Colds had a team-high 16 points, Daryl McCoy added 10 and Samme Givens finished with eight points and eight rebounds.
Syracuse held a 54-22 edge in the paint and had 16 fast-break points to none for Drexel.
Syracuse recovered quickly after sputtering early. The Orange went on a 15-2 run to open an 11-point lead. James Southerland began the spurt with a 3 for an 11-10 lead and the Orange never trailed again.
Jardine set up baskets by Baye Moussa Keita and Joseph, Jackson scored off the glass and Jardine scored in transition to make it 20-12. Jackson's three-point play completed the spurt, putting Syracuse up 23-12.
Three straight baskets by McCoy had the Dragons back within nine, but Jardine hit a 3 from the left corner and a free throw in the final seconds to give the Orange a 35-22 halftime lead.
``It feels great to beat any team, but it will be cool to go home with this win,' Jardine said.
Drexel shot just 29 percent (9 of 31) in the opening period as the Orange defense swarmed around the Dragons every time they shot or tried to. Jackson had four of Syracuse's six blocks and Drexel was 2 of 10 from beyond the arc, with both 3s by Colds.
If Drexel had visions of a comeback, they were dashed for good as Joseph scored almost at will in the second half - on dunks and driving layups - after scoring only four points in the first.
``They were ready,' Colds said. ``They held onto the lead and wouldn't let us back in. Up until halftime, we were playing OK, but in the second half they just started making a lot of shots, even the contested ones. For parts of the game we were (on our heels). We weren't attacking the whole game like we should have been.'
After an 86-67 win over Canisius in the second game of the season in mid-November, Boeheim called this team - which has four freshmen - the most overrated in his 35 years on the bench. He's likely changed his mind but keeps his thoughts to himself.
``At first, Coach made that statement and it definitely woke us up,' Joseph said. ``I think that really motivated us as a team. We're better. The younger guys are learning. The veterans are stepping up. Everyone is working together. I think we're ready for what's coming our way.'
The Associated Press News Service
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