Jardine isn't Syracuse's leading scorer, but he is the heart behind an Orange team that whipped the Wildcats last night, 79-66.
Together with Dion Waiters, his backcourt mate/cousin and fellow Philadelphian, the Orange took control midway through the first half and didn't take their foot off the gas until the waning minutes. Jardine had eight points, including a three-pointer from halfcourt to give the Orange a 19-point halftime lead.
Waiters befuddled Villanova with dribble drives, three-pointers and tough defense. The only thing that slowed him down was when he turned his left ankle late in the half. As Waiters sat on the court collecting himself and lacing up his sneaker extra tight, Jardine prepped himself for his halfcourt heave. Syracuse had the ball with 1.4 seconds left.
"Oh yeah, I forgot about that," Jardine laughed. "I just kind of got open and hit the shot."
Waiters was the first one to greet him in the ensuing celebration, so the turned ankle was more of a scare than an injury. He played 12 minutes after intermission and four of his six second-half points came on thunderous breakaway dunks. Waiters, a sophomore and probably the best sixth man in the country, led all scorers with 20 points.
"I don't like those injuries, because I had [a broken ankle] before," Waiters said. "But I tied it up and told them I was good for the second half."
The win moved Syracuse to 18-0 and within one of matching the 1999-2000 team for the greatest start in program history. The Orange hosts Providence on Saturday and welcomes Pittsburgh on Monday for what could be the record. Syracuse, Baylor and Murray State are the only remaining undefeated teams.
But last night for Jardine was about coming home. He is 3-0 in his Syracuse career at what is now the Wells Fargo Center. Whatever name they want to call it, he just keeps adding cherished memories, like halftime buzzer-beaters.
"I was at the Chicago-Sixers game when Iverson crossed-over Michael Jordan [as a rookie in 1997]," he said proudly. "But we lost - I'm going to say we - because the Sixers lost, 108-104. You can look it up."
We did. And he's right.
"I lived in this building. I really did," Jardine said. "To be able to play in this building and be 3-0 is a dream come true. It really is."