Jardine scored 14 of his 16 points after halftime to break open a close contest. He knocked down three-pointers, drove the lane for baskets, and directed a previously stagnant offense to a lights-out shooting performance.
"We lost our fifth-year senior and their fifth-year senior made the difference in the game," Kansas State coach Martin said in an emotional postgame interview session that brought him to tears when the Samuels situation was addressed. "We lost the toughest guy on our team. Scoop, as a fifth-year senior, made the plays, made difficult shots, played extremely aggressive in the second half."
Jardine added eight assists and five rebounds, and Syracuse shot 51 percent from the field. It was the type of performance Syracuse needs from its point guard if it is going to compete for the national championship.
The scintillating second half came after an erratic first half when Jardine committed four of his six turnovers and gave Kansas State some easy points.
"That's how we need him to play," fellow senior Kris Joseph said. "It was all about senior leadership tonight. He showed a lot of that, showed a lot of character. I told him at halftime, 'Thank God for two halves of basketball.' He had a chance to redeem himself. He did a great job. He took care of the ball. He made shots and he made plays for others."
Play from other Philadelphia-area products also lifted the Orange. Sophomore guard Dion Waiters, of Life Center Academy, led Syracuse with 18 points on 5-for-9 shooting off the bench. Freshman center Rakeem Christmas, from Academy of the New Church, led the team with 11 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Christmas played 34 minutes, by far the most all season. His playing time jumped when the team lost starting center Fab Melo for the tournament due to academic issues.
Syracuse led, 25-24, at halftime. The Orange took command early in the second half. It was a two-point game when Jardine nailed a three-pointer to make it 39-34 with 14 minutes, 49 seconds remaining. Two Christmas buckets underneath and two free throws from James Southerland capped a 12-2 run and made it 45-34.
Kansas State cut the lead to five a few minutes later with a three-pointer by Angel Rodriguez, but Syracuse quickly regained control. Back-to-back three-pointers from Jardine and Southerland produced a 55-42 lead with 9:02 remaining, and Kansas State could not climb back into the game.
"In the second half, we made shots," Boeheim said. "We haven't done that lately. Our offense was not good in the first half. Our defense was not very good in the first half. We got killed on the boards. But the difference [in the second half] was Scoop started to get us going, made some shots, made some plays."