Syracuse ready for Big East after beating Northeastern 95-74

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP)—When he heard Syracuse’s rabid fans chant his name for the first time during Midnight Madness, Scoop Jardine just shrugged.

“I thought they were booing me,” the freshman guard said.

They weren’t, and likely won’t as long as he wears Orange.

Starting just his third game in place of injured Eric Devendorf, Jardine scored a season-high 18 points, Paul Harris added a season-high 19 points and matched his career high with 15 rebounds, and Syracuse beat Northeastern 95-74 on Sunday.

Devendorf was averaging 17 points when he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee against East Tennessee State and was lost for the season. But Jardine, a coolly confident operator alongside point guard Jonny Flynn, has adjusted quickly to his new role.

“I thought I was a little too comfortable,” said Jardine, whose previous high was eight points in the game Devendorf was hurt. “I’m not trying to fill Eric Devendorf’s shoes. They’re big shoes. I can’t fill them. I’m just trying to play my role and help us win.”

This was a tale of two halves, and the Orange (10-3) won the second decisively with a stifling defense to register their fourth straight victory heading into the Big East portion of their schedule. Northeastern (4-7) shot 53.6 percent (15-for-28) in the opening period, then made just 27 percent (10-for-37) in the second.

“We’ve just got to want to play defense,” said freshman forward Donte Greene, who finished with 17 points. “When we get lazy and worry about our shots and how many points we’re going to score, we can be the worst defensive team in the country. We’ve just got to work at it and stay focused.”

Jardine and Harris led a 22-5 run at the start of the second half that gave Syracuse a commanding lead after a tight first half.

“We know what we’ve got to do. We did it in the second half,” said Harris, who had been held under 10 rebounds the previous four games. “We can’t wait until we get down or it gets close. We’ve got to start right off the bat.”

After Chaisson Allen’s layup tied the game at 44-all in the first seconds of the second half, Harris, who notched his seventh double-double of the season, started the Syracuse surge by converting two follow shots. Jardine drew Manny Adako’s fourth foul on a driving layup and converted the foul shot for a 51-44 lead at 18:02,

Jardine, who had four assists, three steals, and two turnovers, hit a short jumper to make it 60-49 at 14:43, and just over a minute later Greene hit a 3 from the top of the key after a block by Arinze Onuaku to put the Orange up 64-49. Jardine completed the run by feeding Flynn for a fast-break layup at 12:42.

“They got that run going and we never got back into it,” said Matt Janning, who led the Huskies with 26 points. “We backed down and never got back to our stuff, so it was hard to do anything.”

Flynn finished with 13 points, Onuaku 12, and Kristof Ongenaet 10 for the Orange, who shot 56.9 percent for the game. Syracuse, which entered the game averaging 85.8 points, finished with six players in double figures for the third time this season.

“I was extremely concerned about Syracuse’s ability to put points on the board,” Northeastern coach Bill Coen said. “We are not a team that can readily do that. We don’t normally play games in the 90s. We have our success in the 60s. We were going to struggle to stop them.”

Allen had 19 points and Nkem Ojougboh added 12 for the Huskies. But Adako, Northeastern’s second-leading scorer at 11 points per game, was in foul trouble early and scored only two points in 19 minutes.

The first half featured 14 lead changes and Adako was already on the bench with his third foul when Greene attempted and made his first shot of the game, a 3-pointer from right wing that gave Syracuse a 27-26 lead with 6:55 left.

“I wasn’t going to force anything,” Greene said. “I was getting double-teamed, so I was just trying to get my teammates the ball.”

Syracuse switched to man-to-man defense after Janning scored twice inside to give the Huskies a 26-22 lead with 7:39 left. The switch made little difference as Northeastern never trailed by more than four points and went 5-for-10 on 3-pointers to offset the Orange’s 13-7 edge at the free-throw line.

The Orange, who committed a season-low 10 turnovers, gained a 44-42 halftime lead when Flynn converted a runner in the lane as the shot clock expired with just under 3 seconds left.

“We didn’t do a good job on the defensive end (in the first half), and hopefully, that’s a lesson that we’ll learn,” said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who moved past Ed Diddle into fourth place all-time in Division I for wins at one school with 760. “We’ve got to play better there.”

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Northeastern
M. Janning M. Janning
8-17,  26 Pts
3 Rebs, 2 Assists
 Syracuse
P. Harris P. Harris
5-10,  19 Pts
15 Rebs, 7 Assists

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Sunday, Dec 30