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Syracuse 85, Florida State 72: Offensive Outburst Powers Orange Past Seminoles

Syracuse had its best offensive showing of the season on Thursday, and it was enough to beat fellow bubble team Florida State.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

For anyone wondering whether Syracuse would come out fresh or rusty against Florida State on Thursday night -- SU's first game in nine days -- the Orange needed only 33 seconds of game action before providing an answer.

That's when, on Syracuse's first offensive possession, Malachi Richardson drilled a deep 2-point jumper.

On SU's next possession, Trevor Cooney knocked in a 3-pointer from the right wing. Then Richardson hit another jumper. Then Cooney hit another. Then Gbinije got in on the fun, adding a layup in transition.

For the Orange, the shots kept falling and never seemed to stop against Florida State on Thursday. SU topped the Seminoles, 85-72, at the Carrier Dome, moving to 7-5 in ACC play and finishing its homestand a perfect 4-0, as it continues to look like anything but the team that was once 0-4 in the conference.

"We had a lot of fun out there tonight, honestly," guard Michael Gbinije said.

So much fun, in fact, that two minutes and 38 seconds still remained when the Orange eclipsed 83 points, which was the team's previous scoring high. They shot 62% from the field and 47.1% from 3-point range. Four players registered double figures in scoring -- led by Gbinije's 22 points -- and two others had at least eight points.

When pointing out what went well offensively, head coach Jim Boeheim's list seemed like it might never end. Michael Gbinije's ability to take the 7-foot-3 Boris Bojanovsky off the dribble after constant switching. Richardson and Franklin Howard's success penetrating. Dajuan Coleman's aggression to start the second half, when he went on a 6-0 run by himself.

Most of all, though, Syracuse was patient offensively -- the most patient it's been in any game this season, Boeheim said.

"We kept waiting until we got a good situation," he added.

It wasn't always easy for the Orange on Thursday, though. After opening up a 14-point advantage midway through the opening half, they saw that lead shrink to just three points at the break, after FSU's Devon Bookert hit a 3-pointer as time expired in the first half.

But the Coleman-produced 6-0 run -- which started with a thunderous dunk and was capped with an impressive dribble-drive from the free throw line -- put the Orange up by nine. Two minutes later, that lead was stretched out to 16, thanks largely to two 3-pointers that came off the fingertips of Gbinije.

From there, Florida State never again threatened and the rout in favor of the Orange was on.

Making that rout so impressive was the fact that the Seminoles entered Thursday ranked fifth in the ACC in kenpom.com's adjusted defensive efficiency metric. Only once this season has FSU allowed more points than it did to SU; that was against North Carolina, which ranks fifth in kenpom.com's adjusted offensive efficiency metric.

The Seminoles also entered Thursday at 6-5 in the ACC -- the same as the Orange. Beating them so convincingly is another quality win on SU's resume, which now includes several of those: Connecticut, Texas A&M, Duke, Notre Dame and FSU.

Adding to that, Syracuse has also now won four in a row and seven of eight since its disastrous 0-4 start to ACC play.

"I know a lot of people gave up on this team a long time ago," Boeheim said, "so I'm happy with what they've done."

Maybe it's Boeheim's return from suspension that this can be credited to, given that SU was 4-5 without him and is now, on the season, 13-3 with him. Or maybe it can be credited to the development of younger players, particularly the freshmen. Maybe it's the defense, which, over the past eight games, has held opponents to worse than 42% shooting on seven times.

Or maybe -- probably -- it's a combination of those things and other factors. Whatever the reason, though, this team has the look of one that should at least be a factor in March, something that a month ago seemed quite unlikely.

"This team's good," Trevor Cooney said. "And we're starting to prove it."