Since the Syracuse Orange's disappointing loss to the Butler Bulldogs in the third round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament, the Syracuse Orange believe they have to make up for lost time. In fact, “Unfinished Business” has been the team’s mantra for the season to serve as a reminder of the goal at hand: a national championship.
SU senior Rick Jackson led all scorers of the night with a season-high 23 points, along with two blocks and seven rebounds. Jackson also went 9-11 from the free-throw line, boosting his ever-so low season average of 53.3 percent.
From the beginning, the Orange targeted Jackson who finished 7-11 from the field. At 6-foot 9-inches tall, Jackson stands just one-inch taller than ISU’s junior center, Myles Walker. Jackson's athleticism was able to hold against Walker's defensive capabilities.
“We worked as hard as we could, but Jackson is really good. He’s unselfish too and he doesn’t take bad shots,” said Sycamore head coach Greg Lansing said. “We tried to not double him, as Myles is a good post defender, but Myles had a couple of fouls early and we had to help on him.”
Although Jackson’s stats and the final score say differently, this win was not easy. Even with a 17-point lead during the first half, the Orange allowed the Sycamores to cut the deficit with a 16-7 run. After dominating much of the first half, Syracuse only led 38-30 at the break.
ISU’s offense had deployed different tactics during practices this week. ISU added a sixth defender and hockey sticks to depict the quickness and strength of SU. These efforts seemed to pay off early in the game.
As the second half started, ISU began to find some small windows of opportunity in the 2-3 zone defense that SU head coach Jim Boeheim has made so famous.
Led by senior guard Jake Kelly’s scoring and freshman guard Jake Odum creating proper matchups while running the point, the Sycamores got within four of the Orange, 42-38, just 4:12 into the second half. However, after an ISU timeout, the Orange collected themselves and went on a 9-0 run to seal the victory.
“I knew this thing was going to be tough, and it was. They're a very difficult team to play against,” Boeheim said. “They're very well coached. They move the ball. It could have been tougher. They had a couple (baskets) go in and out when it was a 10-point game, but we made some good plays coming down the stretch when we needed to.”
Lansing – a first-year head coach – was visibly disappointed because his team made an early exit, but Lansing remained positive.
“I didn't think we played particularly well, but I think that has everything to do with Syracuse and the style that they play,” he said. “At the start of the game we weren't attacking. But I want to just thank my team for what they've done, for me and my first year as a head coach. It's been an unbelievable ride.”
With the win, the Orange advance to face a familiar Big East foe in the Marquette Golden Eagles. The 11-seed Golden Eagles upset the 6-seed Xavier Friday. Tipoff is scheduled for Sunday at 7:45 p.m.