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Big Bullies: Syracuse 82, South Florida 65

Syracuse's 82-65 win over South Florida on Sunday might have been easy and seemingly-unimportant.  But given what else happened this weekend in the top ten, it could end up being the win that catapults them into uncharted ranking territory.

But, yeah...this one was kinda easy.

Wesley Johnson produced 19 points and 13 rebounds to lead seventh-ranked Syracuse in an 82-65 defeat of South Florida in a Big East clash at the Carrier Dome.

Rick Jackson added 15 points, and Arinze Onuaku 12 for the Orange (15-1, 2-1 Big East), who have rattled off a pair of wins in response to a 10-point home loss to Pittsburgh last weekend.

Brandon Triche recorded 10 points, six boards and five assists. Andy Rautins added eight points and seven assists, as Syracuse shot at a 50.8 percent clip from the field.

Simply put, the Orange frontcourt dominated the game, thanks in large part to the absence of South Florida center Augustus Gilchrist.

Jackson and Onuaku imposed their will on the Bulls and the game, scoring a combined 23 points on 12-for-17 shooting. Jackson broke out of a three-game slump with 15 points and four blocks, while Onuaku made all five of his field goal attempts to finish with 12 points despite being in foul trouble for most of the game.

"I thought they owned that matchup a little bit,’’ South Florida coach Stan Heath said. "We did a great job getting Arinze in foul trouble but Jackson was a load.’’

Jackson was a load indeed.

The big scare of the night, because what would an easy win be without an injury, was Kris Joseph's ankle.  Joseph went down with about ten minutes left in the first half, clutching his ankle.  He would not return to action.  Thankfully, it doesn't sound quite as serious as it looked.

"I stepped on someone’s foot," Joseph said. "I was just running to my spot in the zone, just trying to get back on defense. I stepped on someone’s foot and I don’t know whose it was. I knew I wasn’t going back in the second half, pretty much."

Joseph said the ankle was sore. He said he could have returned to the game if the situation demanded his presence.

"I’ll be fine," he said. "I’ll have a couple days before Rutgers (on Wednesday). I’ll just get treated and I should be all right. It’s not my jumping foot – so I’m cool."

Brent Axe noticed something funny about Wes Johnson's boxscore.  Wes is nothing if not consistent.  Behold some of his most recent scoring efforts.

Jan 10 vs  USF         19 points
Jan 6 vs   Memphis   19 points
Jan 2 vs   Pitt           19 points
Dec 29 vs Seton Hall  20 points
Dec 22 vs Oakland    19 points

Now, the Orange wait to see where they'll be ranked tomorrow.  With wins over USF and Memphis this week, they certainly did their part.  But it's what their fellow top ten teams didn't do this weekend that will make the difference.  No. 1 Kansas, No. 4 Purdue and No. 5 Duke all lost this weekend and No. 6 Villanova barely survived against Marquette.  At No. 7 this week, it's conceivable that the Orange could jump as high as No. 4 come Monday.

Check out some post-game video from Boeheim, the players and Mike Waters after the jump.  Check out highlights here...

Coach Boeheim on the Orange win over South Florida, 82 - 65

Post-game locker room with Wes Johnson

Post-game locker room with Andy Rautins

Syracuse vs. South Florida: Mike Waters video report