Scoop Jardine knew exactly what he wanted to do with the ball.
With 11:50 left in the second half and Syracuse up 53-47, CJ Fair was camped on the left corner and made a quick backdoor cut to the basket, unseen by any of the Rutgers defenders. Fair raised his hand in the air, and Jardine quickly lobbed it to Fair.
The sophomore caught the ball and threw down a reserve slam, just the latest in a highlight reel that is growing by the day.
“It was how they were playing the zone,” Fair said. “Fab [Melo] was being a big target and they covered him and sometimes left me wide open. Scoop was doing a good job looking at the floor and finding (me).”
Jardine—and the rest of Fair’s teammates—found him plenty of times on the day, as Fair finished with a career-high 21 points and eight rebounds in 38 minutes of play as Syracuse topped Rutgers 74-64.
Fair was scoring even when his number wasn’t being called.
Four of the eight rebounds were of the offensive variety. That led to easy putbacks and also plenty of trips to the free throw line.
In total, Fair went to the charity stripe eight times, burying all of his freebies.
“Once I made my first two, I got in a rhythm and I knew I was going to knock them down,” Fair said.
On a team with no superstars, Fair is among the many players that can take over a game.
“He’s always in the right position to make a bucket,” Jardine said. “He’s a guy that you can’t stop. You have some of these guys doing other things, you can’t stop a CJ Fair.
“We have guys that make plays at the right moments. We’ve been criticized because we don’t have that one superstar, but I’d rather play on a team like this one with four or five guys that can make a play at any given time.”
On Sunday afternoon, Fair made more than his share.
Brad Bierman contributed to this story with reporting from Piscataway, NJ.