In game where both teams went on their share of runs, it would be easy to suspect a Syracuse 26-0 run was the ultimate key to victory over South Florida. But the stretch that probably meant the most in Wednesday night's 56-48 SU win over South Florida was when the Orange seniors took over in the final 10 minutes of the game. Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph were resilient in that final stretch, and it was that senior leadership that helped SU overcome a USF team that was in striking distance.
"I thought the game came down to Kris making two unbelievable rebounding efforts," said Coach Boeheim, "physical rebounds inside to get the ball back on his drives. He made the two plays of the game right there. A couple good defensive plays too. We were having a bad game and when you're having a bad game you just have to find a way to make the play. He did. Scoop made a big play. Our defense was good."
"I played terrible the whole game ," admits Joseph, " and those two plays that I made that were big. Coach was very confident in me and he kept coming back to me and my teammates were confident as well -- so shout-out to them for that. I played a terrible game but I was able to get some things done in the final stretch. "
Scoop Jardine has established himself as the go to guy down the stretch in close games lately, his five years at Syracuse giving him the experience to know exactly what needs to be done.
"I'm just trying to make a play ," said Jardine after the game, " I do a great job of putting pressure on the defense and today was no different. Coach called plays where I make plays for myself and others, and teams are really playing me the fast. I'm picking them apart, they watch me coming and there's a lot to defend when I'm part of the play. "
And while the Orange are happy to have clinched at least a tie for the Big East regular season title, and tied a school record with their 18th win of the season, they are hoping to avoid having to come back again the way they did against the Bulls.
" We have to be better and it starts now, " says Jardine, " but we're 28-1 and we won a lot of tough games and that's great because it's getting us ready for the tournament. But right now we want to be playing our best basketball on offense and defense. "
The Orange travel to Connecticut this Saturday to take on the Huskies at 9 PM.