Mississippi State thumped DePaul 76-45 in the first of two SEC/Big East Invitational games in Tampa. Five different Bulldogs went into double digits, led by Ravern Johnson's 14. Jarvis Varnado had 12 points, 14 boards, and a pair of blocks for the Starkville contingent. MSU held DePaul to a miserable 28% shooting night, including just 18% in the first half. It was a nice and easy win and all, but DePaul did go winless in Big East play last year.
In the second half of the double header, No. 11 Florida made a nice effort of it but fell to No. 6 Syracuse 85-73. Kenny Boynton had 20 points and seven assists to lead the Gators, and Chandler Parsons had 19 off the bench. The Gators' defense, which has otherwise been great this year, could not come through as the Orange scored easily the most of anyone against UF this season and shot 52.5% from the field. Syracuse led comfortably for most of the game, but Florida did make a run to take the lead with about 10 minutes to go. From there though, the Orange pulled away.
That means the SEC/Big East Invitational ended with a 2-2 tie. The conferences split the match ups of ranked teams, with Kentucky knocking off UConn and Syracuse beating Florida. The mismatches went as expected, with St. Johns taking care of Georgia and Mississippi State blowing out DePaul.