Quick reaction following Syracuse’s 77-60 win over Indiana State in the second round of the NCAA tournament:
How the game was won: The game plan for Syracuse was obvious early on — use its size inside and get to the free throw line. The Orange executed that plan perfectly, as Rick Jackson was featured consistently in the offense. The senior finished with 23 points and seven rebounds, while shooting a surprising 9 of 11 from the free throw line. As a team, Syracuse shot 52.3 percent from the field, 7 of 16 from beyond the arc and 24-31 from the free throw line.
Defensively, the Orange held Indiana State to 40.7 percent from the field and 7 of 21 from downtown. They also kept Sycamores sharp shooter Jordan Printy under wraps. Printy came into the game shooting 48 percent from the field and he ended up 2 of 5 from downtown. Printy seemed like he was starting to heat up after making two quick 3s to start the game, but didn’t hit another one after the 6:35 mark left in the first half.
Hanging tough: The game looked like it was going to get out of hand early, as CJ Fair’s dunk with 7:02 left gave Syracuse a 31-14 lead. But the Sycamores closed the half on an 8-3 run, thanks to a 3-pointer and a layup from Jake Kelly and went into half trailing just 38-30. Joseph hit a buzzer-beating 3 to end the first half, but after replay, the shot came after time had expired.
Indiana State would come charging out of halftime, as an 8-3 run pulled it to within four points with 16:45 left. Odum scored five of those points, and the crowd became suddenly pro-Sycamores with the hopes of an upset. But Fair responded with a jumper that keyed a 9-0 SU run, culminating in a Jackson dunk that made it 51-38 with 11:51 left. Syracuse was never seriously threatened after that.
Quote to Note: “Rick’s been playing strong for us all year. We wanted to establish him early by getting the ball into him. Coach said they didn’t have anybody that could guard him. We wanted to emphasize getting the ball into him.” – Scoop Jardine on Rick Jackson’s play.
Star gazing: Aside from Jackson, Kris Joseph had 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Fair added 14 points and seven rebounds. Kelly led Indiana State with 12 and Odum finished with seven points and six assists. Many of those assists were flashy no-look passes, but for as much as was made of Odum’s performance, Scoop Jardine had nine points and nine assists. Jardine was under control for most of the night, and appeared to be fine after suffering a wrist injury toward the end of the game.
Inconsistent Triche: The sophomore guard’s inconsistency continues. After scoring 22 points against St. John’s in a 79-73 win on March 10 in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament, Triche went 2 of 9 in a 76-71 loss to UConn the next day. Triche was a non factor with eight points on 2 of 6 shooting. He also saw his SU record 37 straight made free throws streak come to an end after he missed his first free throw of the night with 15:25 in the second half.
What’s next: The Orange get a rematch with Big East foe Marquette, who knocked off Xavier, 66-55, earlier in the day. Darius Johnson-Odom scored 19 as the Golden Eagles shot 53 percent from the field. Xavier struggled as Atlantic-10 Conference Player of the Year Tu Holloway scored just five points. Marquette knocked off the Orange earlier in the year, 76-70, on Jan. 29, the fourth loss in a row for the Orange at the time.