Syracuse is your Legends Classic champion and they won the championship game exactly how they've come to win most of their games this season. The Orange stalled early, took the lead around the half and held on for the close 80-76 victory over Georgia Tech.
That said, the Orange also got something they haven't gotten all year long...balance.
For the first time this season, ninth-ranked Syracuse (6-0) had five players reach double-figures in its 80-76 victory over Georgia Tech (4-2) in the championship game of the Legends Classic at Boardwalk Hall.
Once again, Joseph led the Orange with 19 points, but this time the 6-foot-7 junior had company in the scoring column. Jardine scored 15 for the Orange. Dion Waiters finished with 13 points, while fellow freshman C.J. Fair contributed 10 points. Jackson added 10.
Thank goodness, because every member on the team needed to step up to counteract the career night from Tech’s Brian Oliver, who scored 32 points on 12-for-21 shooting, including six three-pointers.
For the first time in what seems like forever, Jim Boeheim seems somewhat pleased...
"We need to have balanced scoring," Boeheim said. "We don’t have a guy that’s going to go out there and score 30. We need to have balance every night, and we got it tonight."
Rick Jackson is your Legends Classic MVP. His numbers weren't gaudy (10 points, 14 rebounds against GT, 10 points, 12 rebounds against Michigan), but he represented that balance and consistency the Orange are going to need to stand for all year long. Jackson played all forty minutes of the Tech game as well.
Joseph collapsed to his hands and knees beneath the basket. SU athletic trainer Brad Pike made his way to the Syracuse forward, administering to Joseph before Joseph finally rose and walked gingerly to the SU bench.
KJ left the game with a big ice bag on his back but doesn't seem too shaken up over it, but not before calling the team's offensive performance a "ten out of ten."
"C.J. (Fair) and Dion were very, very good coming off the bench," SU coach Jim Boeheim said. "I thought Dion was huge in the first half. He and C.J. were both very solid in the first half. They’re getting some experience. I thought both guys played really well."
The Orange leave Atlantic City with what they wanted. Two victories over programs that at least have some historical cache if not current ones, a tournament championship and some semblance of a road map on how to make this season successful. Now we hope they can remain consistent through the year.