No. 7 Syracuse Orange Top Florida Gators In SEC/Big East Invitational

Marisa BevilacquaCorrespondent IDecember 11, 2009

NEW YORK - MARCH 14: Rick Jackson #00 of the Syracuse Orange reacts between plays against the Louisville Cardinals during the championship game of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 14, 2009 in New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Syracuse continued their impressive start to the season last night with a solid win over No. 10 Florida, beating the Gators 85-73, the smallest margin of victory for the Orange so far.

Not bad for a team that wasn't even ranked to start the season.

This week's triumph was led by the unlikely hero Rick Jackson, who scored a career-high 21 points, including a monster jam off the lob from freshman Brandon Triche at the buzzer to close out the first half.

Not far behind Jackson were newcomer Wes Johnson with 17 points and senior guard Andy Rautins with 16.

Although Rautins was only 2-for-7 beyond the arc, he was on target when it mattered most, responding to Chandler Parsons' three with one of his own to secure the lead for Syracuse.

Despite losing three key players in Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf, and Paul Harris, the Orange haven't missed a beat, opening the season 9-0.

Coach Jim Boeheim's famous zone defense seems to have been perfected by this year's crew, and opponents have yet to figure out how to successfully penetrate to the hoop.

If Syracuse keeps up this smart, unselfish play they could be serious contenders in this year's tournament, giving the always-vocal Orange faithful something to really cheer about.