Orange fans dominate the Forum

More than 10,000 people filled the St. Pete Times Forum Saturday to watch USF take on No. 17 Syracuse, nearly doubling the Bulls’ previous season-high attendance record.

Yet, it was Syracuse who felt more at home in the downtown Tampa venue.

“It’s almost like we were playing close to home. I know for sure there was more orange out there than South Florida fans,” Syracuse point guard Brandon Triche said.

“I loved (the crowd). It was great today. I scored a bucket and it was really loud, it was like we were in the (Carrier) Dome. We have a lot of fans in Florida,” Orange guard Scoop Jardine said.

Syracuse’s home arena, the Carrier Dome doubles as a football stadium and hosts some of the biggest on-campus crowds in college basketball. When the Villanova Wildcats beat the Orange 83-72 on Jan. 22, 33,736 people were in attendance.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said the snowbird migration may be why there were so many Orange fans in the seats for what was supposed to be an away game.

“They all live down here,” he said. “They’re not stupid. They come down here in the wintertime. We always have a lot of people down here. I’d bet there was six, seven or 8,000 people out there from Syracuse.

“We’ve always had that support down here, but today was one of the best crowds I’ve seen here. It was kind of like a home game for us.”

Syracuse junior forward Kris Joseph, who scored 14 points and shot a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line, said he even discussed the lack of USF fans with junior forward Ron Anderson Jr.

“We scored a basket and Ron Anderson told me he finally realized that there were more Syracuse fans in the building because it was so loud,” Joseph said.

USF will return to its traditional home arena, the Sun Dome, for a contest with Marquette Wednesday night at 7. Last time Marquette visited Tampa, 5,316 people watched as the Bulls upset the then-No. 8 Golden Eagles.