Scoop Jardine had a wry smile on his face.
Shortly after Syracuse’s 75-59 win to advance the Orange to the Sweet 16, Jardine was in a joking mood.
“I thought I was playing good in the first half,” Jardine said.
“You always do,” said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim in response.
To contextualize the humor, Jardine had a nightmare first half, turning the ball over four times to just three assists. He also had two points on 1-for-4 shooting.
Syracuse went into halftime clinging to a 25-24 lead.
Boeheim used intermission to get his fifth-year senior guard going.
“It was the same,” Jardine said, describing Boeheim’s approach. “You know, coach do all the talking.”
More laughter followed.
Jardine was in a jovial mood after his second half. He played the entire 20 minutes and scored 14 points to go along with five assists to finish with 16 points and eight assists.
“I told him at halftime, ‘Thank God for two halves of basketball,’” Kris Joseph said. “He had a chance to redeem himself.”
Jardine nailed his first shot of the second half, a 3-pointer that put the Orange back up one. That sparked an 8-2 run that gave SU the lead for good.
Jardine’s next trey came with 14:52 left in the game, and was the impetus to a 9-0 run that seized control. On that run, Jardine also had a drive and a pretty look to Rakeem Christmas for a dunk.
“We been in a lot of games before,” Jardine said. “We didn’t win games by accident. We all win games together, making plays. That’s what we did in the second half.”
With a few more games like he played on Saturday afternoon, Jardine may have a for more second halves to play.
“We won and advanced,” Jardine said. “That’s what this tournament about. We saw a lot of upsets. A No. 2 lost to a No. 15 seed. That’s what this tournament is about.”
Brad Bierman contributed with reporting from Pittsburgh.Wesley Cheng