SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -When Wes Johnson threw the ball away in the second half against South Florida, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim nearly ripped off his sports jacket for the second straight game.
That he didn't was probably because it was Johnson who made the mistake, and he doesn't make very many. The rising star of the seventh-ranked Orange had 19 points and 13 rebounds in an 82-65 win Sunday.
``I saw him almost throw his jacket again,' Johnson said after his seventh double-double of the season. ``But I looked at him and told him, 'I got it the next time.' He calmed down after that. I tried to make up for that.'
Syracuse (15-1, 2-1 Big East) used a 16-4 first-half spurt to take control and outscored the Bulls 17-8 over the first 6:09 of the second half to send South Florida (10-5, 0-3) to its 34th Big East road loss in 36 games since joining the conference.
Dominique Jones had a season-high 30 points and Mike Mercer added 13 for South Florida.
The Bulls were coming off a one-point loss Tuesday night at home to Notre Dame, a game that had 13 lead changes and 11 ties. This one wasn't close. There were three lead changes in the first 4 minutes as the Orange missed six shots.
After Brandon Triche converted a layup off an inbounds pass from Andy Rautins to put Syracuse up 6-5 at 15:40, the Orange never trailed again.
Arinze Onuaku's three-point play at 8:51 sent Syracuse on its game-changing run. The Bulls missed four shots, committed three fouls and had a shot blocked in a span of just over 5 minutes to fall 14 points behind.
``I felt we did a good job defensively for the most part,' said Boeheim, who threw his coat in a win over Memphis on Wednesday night. ``We moved the ball better, got it inside and we finished inside pretty good. It was a pretty solid defensive game.'
The Bulls again played without 6-foot-10 forward Augustus Gilchrist, who was averaging nearly 18.8 points and 7.4 rebounds before severely spraining his right ankle in an early December practice.
``You watch us play and everybody wants to know where Jones is,' South Florida coach Stan Heath said. ``When Gilchrist is out there, you've got to be aware of another guy, too, and he's a big guy that can shoot the 3. In a game like this where they have such long guys, to have a big guy out there that can make a shot opens up your offense.'
Gilchrist's presence was sorely missed. Rick Jackson had 15 points and Onuaku had 12 despite getting his fourth foul with nearly 19 minutes left as the Orange dominated the inside. Ten of the Orange's 15 second-half baskets came on six layups, two hooks, a dunk and a tip.
``We did a great job getting Arinze in foul trouble, but Jackson was a load,' Heath added. ``They make it hard for you because it's hard to double and help a whole lot in the post with Rautins and Johnson out there. At the same time, if you don't respect those guys, Jackson and Arinze can be very, very productive inside.'
Triche added 10 points and Rautins had eight points and seven assists with no turnovers.
After a follow hook by Jarrid Famous moved the Bulls within 19-17 at 9:09, Onuaku, a woeful 39.4 percent from the free throw line, started the early Orange surge with a left-handed layup and free throw.
Mookie Jones, who had played only 8 minutes in the previous three games, hit a 3 from the right wing just seconds after entering the game. Johnson's reverse layup made it 35-21 with 3:24 left, and another 3 by Jones in the final minute gave Syracuse a 40-28 halftime lead.
The Bulls, just like almost every team Syracuse has played so far, struggled to find open looks against the Orange's zone defense. They were whistled for three shot clock violations, two of them in succession.
When Alex Rivas converted his first basket of the season - he missed the first 14 games following surgery to replace metal rods in both legs - his layup came after 11 passes.
``Our defense was good. We got on our assignments,' Rautins said. ``I just want to get back to that stifling defense.'
The Bulls finished 3 of 18 from beyond the arc and were 22 of 55 (40 percent) overall from the field.
``They got us on the glass,' Jones said. ``We're a little shorthanded. We just have to play hard and try to hold on (until Gilchrist) comes back. I promise you we'll look like a whole different team then.'
The Associated Press News Service
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