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.
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A Drexel basket brought the score to an innocuous 5-3 in the first two minutes of its game against Delaware. The next 38 minutes were a lot more interesting.
The Blue Hens went on a 48-16 run to take a 34-point first-half lead on the Blue Hens, only to cough it up as Dragons outscored them 66-30 the rest of the way to complete the largest comeback in Division I history in an 85-83 victory.
The 34-point comeback tops the previous record of 32 by Duke on Dec. 30, 1950. That’s more than 67 years ago, for those keep score at home.
Delaware had a win probability of at least 99 percent for about 11 minutes in the middle of the game, but still lost.
Drexel shot 56.8 percent from the floor and 53.8 percent from 3-point range after halftime and got 29 points from Tramaine Isabell.
After shooting 61 percent from the floor in the first half, Delaware connected at just a 37.9 percent clip after the break.
The great thing about college basketball is you can get a historic performance out of Drexel and Delaware on a random Thursday night. And it’s not even March.
Arizona junior guard Allonzo Trier has been declared ineligible by the NCAA due to a second positive test for a banned substance, it was announced Thursday. The school is appealing the decision, claiming the positive test was leftover from of a substance that was found in Trier’s system in 2016.
Trier was tested in late January and the test “revealed the reappearance of a trace amount of a banned substance,” Arizona said in a statement. “The amount detected was miniscule by scientific standards and appears to be a remnant of a substance, which the NCAA agreed, Allonzo had unknowingly taken in 2016.
“The University is appealing the decision and is hopefully that Allonzo will regain his eligibility soon.”
This is a potential massive blow for a Wildcats team that began the season as one of the top national championship contenders, but has spent much of this season dealing with disappointment and distraction, from their part in the FBI corruption investigation to inconsistency on the floor and now this regarding one of its top players.
Trier is averaging 19.6 points and shooting 54.1 percent from the floor, including 43 percent from the 3-point range.
The Wildcats play at Oregon State tonight and at Oregon Saturday before finishing the regular season at home against Stanford and Cal.
Attention will now turn to the NCAA appeals process – how quickly can it move and what determination will it make? Trier’s status will impact one of the most talented teams in the country, which by extension means it will impact the national championship race next month.
For a team that’s been in the center of controversy all season, and somehow has added another layer to a wild season.
As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Thursday.
It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:
- Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
- Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
- Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
- Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus
The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.
YET TO PLAY
Duke sophomore Marques Bolden underwent surgery Thursday to repair a fractured nasal bone, the school announced.
Bolden is not expected to miss any time for the Blue Devils, who host Syracuse on Saturday.
The 6-foot-11 forward is averaging 4.1 points and 3.5 rebounds in 13.1 minutes per night. Bolden has already missed time this season with a knee injury and has recently been playing through the pain of his fractured nose.
A five-star prospect coming out of Texas in the Class of 2016, Bolden hasn’t been a major presence for the Blue Devils the last two years, but has given Blue Devils good minutes since returning from that knee injury over the last month.
After hosting Syracuse this weekend, Duke, which is 23-5 overall and 11-4 in the ACC, plays at Virginia Tech and then welcomes North Carolina to Durham to finish off the regular season.
Missouri may be adding a lottery pick to its roster for the stretch run.
Michael Porter, Jr., who began the year projected as a potential No. 1 overall NBA draft pick, has been medically cleared to return to basketball activities after missing the entire season with a back injury, a source confirmed to NBC Sports.
CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein was the first to report the news.
The 6-foot-11 freshman played the opening minutes of the Tigers’ opening game against Iowa State to start the year, but has been sidelined ever since. It is currently unclear if he’ll move from being cleared to play to actually hitting the floor for the Tigers.
It seemed unlikely that Porter would ever play college basketball because of the injury, but throughout the season he has never ruled out the possibility. Now that he has reportedly been cleared to play, the question undoubtedly will become should he?
Even without playing another second of college hoops, Porter will be a top pick in June’s draft. Some teams may even consider him for the top pick, if his health screenings check out, just based on workouts and the track record of his dominating play on the AAU circuit for years.
Still, if he’s healthy enough to play and wants to play, it’s unquestionable that it is a decision that is completely his. And it would make Missouri one heck of an interesting team.
The Tigers are 18-10 overall and 8-7 and appeared poised to make the NCAA tournament in coach Cuonzo Martin’s first year in Columbia. For their next game, they play – of course they do – Kentucky on Saturday. Talk about added intrigue for that game.