Safe to say, Syracuse University's men's basketball team has won a fair share games this season by thin margins.
On Saturday night, in front of a large crowd of 22,334 at the Carrier Dome, the no. 8-ranked Orange had yet another contest go down to the wire, this time against North Carolina State. SU would fight past the Wolfpack 66-59, moving to 8-0 in advance of
Tuesday's big test against Michigan State in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.
N.C.State (4-3) might have prevailed, but committed 27 turnovers, 19 of which SU turned into points. Yet even with the win, SU's offense struggled again, shooting 38.3 percent (23-for-60) from the field and 2-for-16 on 3-pointers.
"Our main problem is our offense," said head coach Jim Boeheim. "You have to be able to make some shots. We have got to find a way to make some (of them) if were going to be good. We will find out in the next 20-something games if we can make shots or not."
The Orange's defense played exceptionally well, overcoming a few breakdowns. SU sputtered in the last seven minute, 34 seconds and failed to score a field goal. It was fortunate to come away with the victory as Kris Joseph, Scoop Jardine and Rick Jackson executed free-throws that sealed the fate of NC State.
With 1:45 remaining, SU's 2/3 zone rose to the occasion and made three terrific plays. Jardine prevented C.J. Leslie from driving to the basket and made a crucial steal. On the ensuing N.C. State possession, Jackson blocked a pass from heading to its destination and stole the ball from Scott Wood.
Jardine, who, like his teammates, was erratic shooting the ball, was still credited with carrying his team's offense. Jardine scored 23 points, doled out six assists, and had four steals. Jackson added 16 points and eight rebounds on seven-for-12 shooting.