Fair, Jardine ensure No. 2 Syracuse closes in on Big East title

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C.J. Fair turned in a career game. Scoop Jardine showed off some clutch shots.

Turns out that was the winning combination Sunday for No. 2 Syracuse against Rutgers.

Syracuse’s sophomore wing dropped career-best 21 points on Rutgers, including 14 in the first half when he was one of the few Orange players who didn’t struggle. Jardine, the senior point guard, took over late, hitting a contested jump shot and a clutch 3 to seal the 74-64 win.

“Scoop is the kind of guy who, all game, he’ll let the game come to him,” Rutgers junior Dane Miller told the Newark Star-Ledger. “Then at the end of the game, he’ll hit a 3. That’s what Scoop does. I knew he was going to take that. That’s what Scoop does.”

Jardine finished with 17 points, seven assists.

Syracuse (27-1, 14-1 in the Big East) is now one win from clinching the Big East for the second time in three seasons. It leads Marquette and Notre Dame by 2.5 games with three left to play. That’s a credit to its overall dominance of the league this season – no one’s close in wins or efficiency – but the Orange have had a few issues lately.

In their seven-game win streak, only wins against St. John’s (95-70) and UConn (85-67) showcased the Orange at their best. Rebounding continues to be an issue and sophomore guard Dion Waiters has been hot and cold. Even Sunday’s win was much closer than the 10-point margin indicated.

That’s a tribute to Syracuse’s poise and continued interior defense – seriously, why ever take it into the lane when you can shoot a mid-range jumper and just crash the boards? – not to mention Jardine’s moxie.

Yes, maybe Syracuse could lose in the second-round of the NCAA tournament. But that applies to almost any team. It’s also a team capable of cutting the nets.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

VIDEO: Marshawn Wilson dunks over teammate

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Marshawn Wilson, a freshman guard, made a pretty good first impression to Northern Illinois fans, jumping over 6-foot-8 teammate, Jaylen Key, on Thursday night during the Hukies’ midnight madness.

Wilson is five inches shorter.

The Huskies are coming off a 14-18 (8-10 MAC) season. Northern Illinois begins the 2015-16 campaign against Cal State Northridge on Nov. 13, the first of three games in as many days.

VIDEO Ron Hunter dances at Georgia State’s midnight madness

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Georgia State’s Ron Hunter appears to have recovered from the Achilles tendon tear he suffered last March while celebrating the Panthers winning the Sun Belt Conference Tournament title.

On Thursday night, at the third annual GSU Jam, Hunter broke out the dance moves to the song “Hit The Quan” by iHeart Memphis.

Georgia State went on to defeat No. 3 seed Baylor in the Round of 64, thanks to a game-winning three from Hunter’s son, R.J. That shot made for one of the best moments of March Madness, as Ron Hunter fell of his rolling chair in disbelief.

R.J. Hunter is nowa a rookie with the Boston Celtics. Ron Hunter enters his fifth season with the Panthers.