KANSAS CITY, Mo. - It looked as though UF was going to contain Syracuse point guard Jonny Flynn.
Then the second half started, and so did Flynn.
Last season's Big East Rookie of the Year, who had been held to just 5 points in the first 20 minutes, erupted in the second half to finish the game with 18 and lead Syracuse (4-0) to an 89-83 win against No. 18 UF (3-1) in the semifinal round of the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic on Monday night.
"I was totally impressed with (Flynn) tonight," UF coach Billy Donovan said. "He may be the best point guard in the country."
Orange guard Andy Rautins, who was shooting 20 percent from 3-point range heading into the game, knocked down five in the first half.
"That kid killed us," UF guard Nick Calathes said.
Rautins all but disappeared in the second half, but with forward Paul Harris coming alive for 18 points, no one seemed to notice.
Unable to slow down the Orange offense, Donovan opted to switch from man-to-man to a zone defense.
"They scored on everything we threw at them," Donovan said. "We had matchup problems all over the floor."
Syracuse had five players score in double figures. Guard Eric Devendorf just missed out with 9.
"We just don't have a defensive commitment at all," Donovan said. "You give up 51 percent from the field and 40 percent from the 3-point line, and you're not beating anybody."
Chandler Parsons and Erving Walker continued to struggle shooting the ball. They finished the night shooting a combined 8 of 19 from the field.
Despite their poor defensive effort, the Gators had a chance to win.
UF closed the Syracuse lead to 83-79 with just under a minute to play. Calathes (19 points) missed a deep three with 51 seconds left. The Gators failed to grab the rebound, and Walker subsequently fouled Flynn.
"If Nick makes the shot, it's a great shot and everything's terrific," Donovan said. " It's easy to second guess it and say it wasn't a good shot."
It wasn't all doom and gloom for UF, though.
At 6-foot-9, 275 pounds, Orange center Arinze Onuaku is an inch taller and more than 50 pounds heavier than the Gators' Alex Tyus.
It was supposed to be a mismatch, and it was - for Syracuse.
Tyus outran, out-quicked and out-jumped the Orange big man. Tyus scored a game-high and career-high 24 points.
"A lot of their guys were real big but slow," Tyus said. "I tried to be aggressive and find the holes in their defense."
In his return to his native Missouri, Tyus had his finest night as a Gator. He even got a handshake from Washington coach Lorenzo Romar outside the locker room after the game.
"Right now, I'm just disappointed about the loss," Tyus said.
Tyus is starting to develop a connection with point guard Nick Calathes. The pair hooked up for several baskets, including two alley-oop dunks.
Allan Chaney proved he could give the Gators valuable minutes off the bench. The freshman chipped in 7 points and four steals.
The Gators will now face Washington in the tournament's third-place game tonight at 7:45.