Strong second half pushes Orange into Sweet Sixteen

Syracuse shot 66 percent in the second half on their way to a 75-59 win over Kansas State in Pittsburgh on Saturday

Three thoughts from Saturday's game:

1. Rakeem Christmas, Melo’s replacement, is improving …

His stat line says it all: 8 points and 11 rebounds. Those are Fab Melo stats right there, minus the blocks. Slowly but surely, Christmas is developing into the player that he was supposed to be coming out of high school. Melo's absence has forced Syracuse to play Christmas more than they probably would have wanted, but he has performed much better now that he is being given the minutes to perform. With Baye Keita and C.J. Fair not playing up to the standards everyone is used to, it’s comforting to see Christmas emerge as the dominant post player that Melo was during the regular season.

2. Scoop Jardine is more clutch than everybody thinks he is …

In the first half, Jardine only had two points. But when the final buzzer sounded, the fifth-year senior had 16 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds. Jardine’s 3 3-pointers in the second half were the reason why the Orange won. Everyone thinks that Dion Waiters and Kris Joseph are the most clutch players on the floor, but Jardine proved that he has the same ability to perform well in the clutch and help his team win the big games.

3. Streakiness hurts and helps SU …

The Orange went on a big run in the first half that put them up big early on. However, Syracuse also allowed Kansas State to go on a run at the end of the half to cut the lead to one going into halftime. The Orange has struggled with this throughout the year, and it has always allowed opposing teams to come back in games. Saturday’s game could have easily turned that, but Syracuse’s late run helped close out the game and propel them into the Sweet Sixteen.

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