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Scoop's face after he saw his stat line

Saturday was Senior Day in the Dome for Scoop Jardine, Kris Joseph, Brandon, Nick, and Matt.  The final home game for the 2011-2012 Syracuse Orange basketball team.  The opportunity to go undefeated in the Dome for only the second time in school history.  But Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals came into town looking to crash that party.  The Cards showed a revamped starting lineup, hoping that the changes would spark something on the offense, they'd get out in front of the Orange, and lead the rest of the way.  Didn't quite happen that way, though.  Overcoming a slightly slow start, Syracuse found its groove, led by Brandon Triche, and capped off an impressive 30-1 regular season, beating the Cards 58-49.
  • We knew that head coach Jim Boeheim would be giving more playing time to the likes of Brandon Triche and James Southerland.  Whether either would step up and make the most of those minutes was one of the big questions going into the game.  Triche responded in kind, with 18 points on 5-10 shooting, including 3-6 from three and 5-6 from the line.  He also had four rebounds and four assists. This may have been one of Triche's most complete games in some time, so it was great to see that on the final regular season game when he was on the floor for 28 minutes.
  • Southerland played 20 minutes, scoring seven on 2-3, grabbing four rebounds, and blocking three shots.  You take that off the bench any day, especially on this team.  It's also nice to have another blocking threat out there besides Fab Melo.
  • Fab's stat line -- particularly offensively -- won't wow you (four points off a field goal and two free throws), but he otherwise had a decent game and made his presence known.  To compliment his eight rebounds, Fab also blocked four shots and had a steal.  It was a battle inside, but Fab wouldn't back down.  He also drew a couple charges and/or flopped.  All in a day's work.
  • Credit to Dion Waiters, who again had another complete game.  In his typical 29 minutes off the bench, Dion scored 13 on 5-9 shooting, pulled down four rebounds, and dished out three assists.  We all know what Dion is at this point, so nothing too out of the ordinary here.
  • On this Senior Day, we had a tale of two old guys.  Kris Joseph had a pretty solid game to close out his Dome career: 11 points on 4-9 shooting, four rebounds, but three turnovers.  On the flip side, Scoop Jardine got skunked, had one rebound, three assists, but three turnovers.  Of course, he showed his leadership by stressing after the game that team performance & victory was more important than his individual performance.  That's all well and good.  But Syracuse needs production from Scoop in any and all postseason games if advancement is a goal.  Luckily we had Triche to pick up some of the slack here, but how about they just share the responsibilities and be equally as good?
  • CJ Fair had a down game by his standards, with only four points and four rebounds in 24 minutes.  I'm totally not gonna get on him, though.  He's earned every accolade he gets, and deserves to be cut some slack for an "off night."
  • Rakeem Christmas did a great impression of the typical Rakeem Christmas.
  • On the Louisville side, offense wasn't something too concerning.  Their two highest scorers each had ten (Russ Smith and Chane Behanan).  Overall, the team shot 33.9%.  No pride in that number.
  • Syracuse, on the other hand, shot 42.2% for the game.  But if you wanna know who won the rebounding battle, take a guess.  You guessed Syracuse?  Wrong.  It was, of course, Louisville, at 40-32.  Go figure.
  • Oddly enough, Syracuse turned the ball over more times (15-14) and had the ball stolen 10 times (to Louisville's six).
  • The crowd of 33,205 was the fifth-largest in Carrier Dome history.  Always nice to be a part of a 33k+ crowd.
  • The only walk-on senior to see playing time was Brandon Reese, who got in during the last minute of the game.  I thought it was odd that Matt & Nick didn't make it in, but I guess a nine-point differential was just too close for Jimmy to chance it.
  • Syracuse was presented with the Big East regular season championship trophy after the game.  That was nice.
While this victory secured an undefeated home campaign, the most successful regular season in team history, and the feel-good "we hit the 30 win mark in the regular season" thing, it counted for little else.  The #1 seed in the Big East tournament had already been secured.  Most experts believe even a Syracuse loss against Louisville and an early exit in the Big East tourney still would not have kept Syracuse off the top line for the NCAA Tournament.  So, the win was just a win.  Which is better than a loss -- because then it makes it seem like it's okay to lose.  And now, we're getting to the point where if you lose, you're done.  Just keep winning.
Up next, the Big East tournament.  #1-seed Syracuse plays the winner of #8 West Virginia vs. #16DePaul/#9UConn.  That quarterfinal game will be Thursday at noon on the ESPN.  A victory there sends the Orange to Friday night's semifinal at 7pm, which sets up Saturday night's championship at 9pm.  Just for S's & G's, I'll be posting our BET Bracket Predictions prior to the first games, which tip with that DePaul/UConn game tomorrow at noon.  Follow along, see who has the higher basketball IQ between Brian and I.  I guarantee you, it'll be a crap-shoot!

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