Brandon Triche’s offense was exactly what Syracuse needed in a 72-68 win over Florida.
The Orange struggled offensively all night, shooting just 40 percent from the field and 17 percent from downtown. Triche wasn’t much better than the averages, shooting 5-for-13 from the field and 1-for-4 from beyond the arc.
But his lone 3-pointer came when Syracuse was in dire need of a big shot, and he hit all nine of his free throws, including the game-clinchers down the stretch. Triche ended up with 20 points (13 coming in the second half) and three assists as Syracuse held on for its biggest win of the season so far.
“The thing with Brandon is that he’s done that in the past,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “He’d come in last year, get nothing and then get 15 in the second half.”
But the second half is when Syracuse really needed Triche.
SU led for most of the second period, but Florida finally took the lead after Erving Walker’s jumper gave Florida a 46-44 lead with 9:57 left. After SU tied it, Kenny Boynton nailed a 3-pointer, silencing the Carrier Dome crowd.
But the Dome wouldn’t be quiet for too long.
On SU’s next possession, Jardine found Triche floating along the left baseline and Triche launched once he caught it.
“Fortunately,” Boeheim said, “Brandon hit a huge one.”
That ignited the Orange, and it would score 16 of the next 20 points in the game.
Triche also was a perfect 4-for-4 from the line in the final 90 seconds of the game when Florida tried to make one final push.
“I still don’t think he realizes how good he is,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “I don’t think anybody can guard him.”
It was a big compliment from the Syracuse coach.
“I agree with him,” Triche said, when asked about Boeheim’s comments.
But he knows there’s more work to be done.
“I am just trying to get better each and every game,” Triche said. “I have to go back and work on my mid-range because I missed a bunch of those jump shots that I practice on.”
Corey Mallonee contributed to this article with reporting from Syracuse.