PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 17: Scoop Jardine #11 of the Syracuse Orange is helped back onto the court after he went head first over the scorer's table after a loose ball against the Kansas State Wildcats during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Consol Energy Center on March 17, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
There it is. That's the Syracuse Orange team we've come to expect will take the court every night. That's the cohesive unit in which everyone contributes and does their part, whether it be scoring, dishing, grabbing boards or playing good defense. We've never asked for much (well...), just this.
The one-seed Syracuse Orange are moving on to the Sweet Sixteen for the third time in four seasons following a 75-59 shakedown of the 8-seed Kansas St. Wildcats on Saturday.
SU put together about as dominant a second half as we've seen them have in a long time. The Orange scored 50 points to KSU's 35 and erased whatever lingering doubt remained after the Asheville game about whether or not this team was still capable of doing well in the NCAA Tournament.
Dion Waiters played well in both halves, leading the Orange with 18 and helping control the offense at critical periods. He continues to be the best athlete on the floor at any given time.
Scoop Jardine has his requisite scoopid mistakes in the first half but once again came alive in the second half. He finished the game with 16 points and seven assists after committing four turnovers in the first half.
James Southerland, you guys! Southerland is the team's leading scorer in the NCAA Tournament right now. He turned in 15 points and has picked the best-possible time to find his game.
Rakeem Christmas also picked a great time for his breakout game. He grabbed a career-high 11 boards, scored eight points and even looked Fab-like on defense with some blocks and key stops. He also has the ChristmasHawk in full effect.
Kris Joseph scored 12 points and had a generic Kris Joseph day.
The Orange really clamped down in the second half on defense as the Wildcats went cold. They ended up shooting 31% on the day. Some might whine and say they were without one of their best players, Jamar Samuels, but, you know, we're missing a guy too, so buck up.
All in all just an impressive win when the Orange needed it most. All of a sudden, the East Region one-seed, who is 33-2, is destroying brackets across the nation as they keep winning. How in the hell did we get into that situation?
Of course Syracuse won. The story of the best/worst season in Syracuse history cannot end yet. This team continues to drain every last emotion out of itself, its fans and its enemies. Talk of the zone vs. man-to-man will rage on. Talk of Fab Melo will continue. Criticism of Jim Boeheim will not cease. And Jim Boeheim will keep responding to it all.
2011-2012 Syracuse Basketball, in all its glory. Now go buy your Sweet Sixteen t-shirt. It's the law.