SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP)—Different team, same script for No. 10 Syracuse.
Scoop Jardine had a career-high 27 points, Rick Jackson had 10 points and a career-best 22 rebounds, and the Orange rallied past Detroit 66-55 in the Legends Classic on Tuesday night.
Syracuse (3-0), which trailed by three at halftime, finally broke open the game with two big runs in the second half to foil the upset bid by Detroit (0-2).
The Orange have rallied in the second half of each of their games, and Jim Boeheim, who called his team the most overrated he’s ever had in 35 years as head coach after their 86-67 win over Canisius on Sunday, has a solution.
“I think if you just take the second halves we play, then we’re not overrated,” Boeheim said with more than a tinge of sarcasm. “Maybe we can just skip the first half and start the second half at 0-0. If they let us do that, it would really be pretty good.”
With none of his teammates stepping up, Jardine, who had eight assists and five steals, took control. He scored 12 points in the first six minutes of the second half to lead Syracuse on a 17-4 run that erased a 28-25 halftime deficit. He hit two 3-pointers to give him a career-high four in the game, converted a layup and then passed to Jackson underneath for a reverse layup that put Syracuse up 42-32 at 13:38.
“I was just using my ability to get what I need, whatever our team needs,” Jardine said. “I was able to get going and get in the lane and find guys. I just took what the defense gave me.”
The Titans used three straight Syracuse turnovers to start a rally. A 3-pointer from the right corner by Chase Simon helped key a 10-2 run that Eli Holman finished with a layin to cut the Orange lead to 44-42 midway through the half.
Jardine put the brakes on an upset bid, though, converting a three-point play after a nice block by James Southerland to start a 13-2 run. Southerland, followed with a 3 from the left corner off a feed from Jardine and Jardine passed to Brandon Triche for a fastbreak reverse layup. Fouled on the play, Triche made the free throw to put the Orange ahead 53-42 with 8:20 left and Detroit was unable to recover.
“I think we just lost our composure for quite a little bit,” said Holman, who led Detroit with 17 points and 10 rebounds. “Our goal was to try to extend our lead the first four minutes of the second half. They kind of slowed down our tempo.”
Jason Calliste, a streaky shooter who was 1 of 7 on 3s in a season-opening loss at New Mexico, had 16 points. He helped keep the Titans ahead in the first half on 3 of 6 shooting from beyond the arc but missed all four treys he took in the second. Chase Simon had 11 points.
In its first two games, Syracuse struggled against Northern Iowa and Canisius, leading both by only three points at halftime. That prompted Boeheim’s “overrated” soliloquy, even though Syracuse’s margin of victory in the two games was 20.5 points.
Despite vows to change that, the Orange faltered again in an ugly first half against Detroit. Ray McCallum’s 3 at the shot-clock buzzer and a follow slam by Holman gave the Titans a 17-14 lead at 10:43, and they held it for the rest of the period as they crowded the lane to prevent Jackson from getting his inside game going.
Kris Joseph, one of the main keys for the Orange, struggled again, too. He was called for his third foul with just over eight minutes left in the first half and hit the court hard with his left elbow. He took just two shots and had three points at halftime and did not score again before fouling out in the closing minutes.
Before the season, Boeheim was concerned about the Orange’s capabilities from long range, and in this game that concern was warranted. Syracuse was 2 of 17 on 3s in the first half and 7 of 32 from the field as the pesky Titans challenged every shot under the basket, committing 14 fouls. The Orange failed to take advantage of that, too, going 9 of 18 from foul line.
Syracuse finished 7 of 30 on 3s and shot 24 of 66 (36.4 percent) for the game as Southerland, Joseph, and Triche were a combined 3 of 22 from the field and 2 of 15 from beyond the arc.
“If Scoop didn’t pull us on his shoulders and take the game over, we have no chance,” Boeheim said. “He just decided he was going to win this game by himself. No one else wanted to shoot or took a shot like they wanted to shoot. Pretty soon we’re going to play somebody who can make a shot and we’re not going to win.”