A quick take on Syracuse’s 66-62 loss to Marquette in the third round of the NCAA tournament:
How the game was won: With 25.1 seconds left and the game tied at 59, Jimmy Butler drove and found a wide open Darius Johnson-Odum, who drained a 3 to put Marquette up for good. Scoop Jardine took the in-bounds and raced up the court, missing a 3 to tie the game and Junior Cadougan grabbed the rebound. It was an exciting finish to a thrilling second half, where neither team held more than a five point lead at any given point.
But before Johnson-Odom’s shot, it was Syracuse’s game to lose. The Orange was coming out of a timeout and Dion Waiters was in-bounding the ball. But his pass to Jardine sailed wide and Jardine, instead of letting the ball bounce into the backcourt, tried to tip-toe the line and was called for over and back. That play was a microcosm of the whole game, as Syracuse committed 18 turnovers, about six more than its season average.
Sweet 16: With the win, the Golden Eagles will advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2003. That year, Dwyane Wade led Marquette to the Final Four, where they were knocked off by tournament runner-up Kansas. The Golden Eagles will play second-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels, who survived earlier in the day against Washington for an 86-83 win. The teams will meet in the East regional semifinals on Friday in Newark, N.J.
Containing Jackson: Rick Jackson scored 23 points and added seven rebounds in Syracuse’s second round game against Indiana State. But Jackson was a non-factor against Marquette, as the Golden Eagles perfectly executed their game plan of double-teaming Jackson each time he caught the ball. Jackson ended up with just seven points, shooting just six shots, and had four rebounds while committing three turnovers. It was Jackson’s quietest game of the season, and a tough send off for Syracuse’s lone scholarship senior.
Quote to Note: “[Waiters] threw the ball in the back court and I just tried to grab it because I didn’t know he was throwing it. At the time I thought I had [Jimmy] Butler on my hip but I should’ve just went to the back court in the first place. It was just a miscommunication that we didn’t need at the time.” – Scoop Jardine on the in-bounds pass from Dion Waiters.
Star Gazing: With Jackson contained for much of the game and Brandon Triche suffering a bruised tailbone early in the second half, Waiters stepped up with a career high 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Waiters didn’t settle for jumpers, and much of his scoring came by swooping to the lane for layups. Kris Joseph quietly put together a 12 point, nine rebound outing, but played with four fouls late in the second half. Johnson-Odom led Marquette with 17 points while Jae Crowder finished with 16, including a key 3-pointer to tie the game at 59 with 2:26 left.
What’s next: The whole theme for this year’s Syracuse team was “Unfinished Business.” This is hardly the kind of ending that the Orange had in mind at the beginning of the season. But the Orange will return much of its core for next season with the exception of Jackson. SU will also be bringing in an elite recruiting class, consisting of guards Trevor Cooney and Michael Carter-Williams, plus center Rakeem Christmas. Both Christmas and Carter-Williams and McDonald’s All Americans.