SYRACUSE For all the well-chronicled issues off the court in the wake of the Bernie Fine case and firing, the Syracuse University men's basketball team doesn't have any problems off the court.
In a marquee match-up Friday night in front of 24,490 at the Carrier Dome, the no. 3-ranked Orange battled no. 9-ranked Florida and, powered by a fine all-around effort from Scoop Jardine, beat the Gators 72-68.
The Gators, who were considered one the best offensive teams in the country, were mostly held in check despite out-shooting SU (45 percent, to the Orange's 40 percent) from the field.
It was, as expected, a competitive battle, but SU turned the game in its favor thanks to an 18-7 second-half run. In addition, SU forced 20 turnovers and converted 17 of 21 free throws en-route to its eighth straight win.
Scoop Jardine was the night's big star, even though he was not the leading scorer. His stellar second-half performance was instrumental as he got 17 points, 10 of which came in seven-minute span of the second half.
Also, Jardine reached a major milestone, earning his 1,000th career point, which made him the 56th player in SU history to reach that mark. When necessary, though, Jardine deferred to his teammates, posting seven assists along with four steals.
What was most impressive above and beyond Jardine’statistics was the fact he has learned how to be a better team player.
Last week at Madison Square Garden in the semifinals and finals of the NIT, he played just 13 minutes and spent most of the time energizing his teammates on the sideline, not letting his subpar contributions stand in the way of rousing his team to victories over Virginia Tech and Stanford.
”I know we just got two huge wins in New York and my teammates played really great and I was happy,” said Jardine. “Everybody’s going to get an opportunity to play well throughout the season.”