MBB : Jardine tallies career-high 18 points, feels more comfortable in starting role
Dec. 30 5:02 p.m. — Jonny Flynn stood up from the bench and waved his arms in the air to urge on the already standing Carrier Dome crowd.
It was almost as if he was conducting the chorus of cheers resonating around the building for Syracuse freshman guard Scoop Jardine as he took in a seat on the bench after what was undeniably a breakout performance for the freshman.
In just his third career start, Jardine tallied 18 points, 10 better than his previous career best, on 7-of-11 from the field. He was a major cog in Syracuse’s 95-74 win over Northeastern Sunday.
It was undoubtedly Jardine’s best all-around collegiate performance. His breakout evening ended when he left the game at the 4:46 mark to a standing ovation from the crowd conducted by Flynn.
Twelve days after he was tabbed to fill the void created by Eric Devendorf’s torn ACL, Jardine justified SU head coach Jim Boeheim’s decision to insert him into the lineup.
‘I just feel more comfortable now,’ Jardine said. ‘At the beginning of the year I’d make a turnover and I’d keep thinking about it. Now I got a leash on me where I know if I make a turnover I have a chance to get it back. I know the one time I made a turnover and I came back and got a steal.’
Just less than two hours earlier it was Flynn who had appealed to Jardine to take a bigger role in the game.
Northeastern was playing a triangle-and-two defense designed specifically to stop Flynn and SU’s top scorer, Donte Greene. During the game’s first timeout, Flynn pulled his new backcourt mate aside to offer a few words of motivation.
‘It was kind of like disrespecting everybody else because they were like, ‘We just wanna stop these two guys and we’re gonna let everybody else beat us.” Flynn said. ‘So I told Scoop he needed to step it up and he said, ‘I got you.”
Jardine responded with eight points in 14 first half minutes – limited after he was forced to sit the half’s final 6:32 after picking up his second personal foul.
In the second half Jardine didn’t seem to suffer any ill effects of the layoff, cutting into the lane and drawing contact to record a 3-point play at the 18:02 to put SU up, 51-44, and jump start a torrid second half in which Syracuse outscored the Huskies, 51-32. Jardine’s 18 points were second best on the team, bested only by Paul Harris’ 19.
At the beginning of the season Jardine had appeared overwhelmed, as if the college game proceeded at a pace that he couldn’t quite catch up with.
But on Sunday, Jardine who was one step ahead, constantly dicing into the lane with nifty dribbling to register one of his six buckets in the paint or anticipating a pass on defense – as he did at the 7:11 mark of the second half, stepping in front of a pass and taking it coast-to-coast for an easy layup.
‘(The game has) slowed down a whole lot,’ Jardine said. ‘I try to slow the game down to my pace. My grandpop told that if I can do that I’d probably have a great game every time because now I can see everything because the game is at my pace.’
Boeheim played down Jardine’s offensive efforts in favor of the freshman’s defensive efforts in the second half, shadowing NU sharpshooter Matt Janning.
‘Well, when nobody guards you, you should be able to score somehow,’ Boeheim said. ‘But I thought his defense was key. He did a good job getting through screens, staying with Janning, not letting him get open looks.’
Janning came into the game the Huskies leading scorer at 16.2 points a game and put up 15 points in the first half shooting over SU’s zone defense.
But Syracuse spent the entire second half in man, and Jardine did the lion’s share of work in limiting Janning to just two field goals in the half. One of those came while SU spent a rare trip back into the zone. Janning finished with a game-high 26 points.
Jardine’s night ended with one last crowd-pleasing play on the defensive end. As a loose ball took a deflection off a Syracuse player and appeared bound for the stands, Jardine leaped to grab the ball and threw it off a Northeastern player to give Syracuse the ball back.
Moments later, Syracuse’s new shooting guard was walking off to a standing ovation from both the Syracuse fans and Flynn.
‘He’s coming into his own,’ Flynn said. ‘He’s getting to that mode where you relax and you’re just playing the game like you’re in high school. And I think Scoop has gotten to that level now where Scoop is relaxed now and he’s letting the game come to him.’
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