Ennis, who looks like he's 14, played like he was 34. In a well-played, anxiety-filled overtime game, Ennis was on the court for 40 of the 45 minutes. He scored 14 points, dished out nine assists and committed only two turnovers.
Certainly it is easier to perform on your home floor, but this was no ordinary home floor. The record crowd pushed some people to seats that offered a view that looked more like it was shot from an overhead blimp than inside the Carrier Dome.
"I've gotten used to the Dome by now,'' Ennis said. "But [the crowd] was even more than usual. I looked around and noticed how many people were there. I saw the difference between 30,000 and 35,000.''
He might have seen the difference, but he never acted like it mattered. In the overtime, recognizing that Amile Jefferson and Parker were both out of the game, Ennis made the game very simple. He passed it inside to Jerami Grant. Grant scored the Orange's first six in OT.
Afterward, Ennis' Hall of Fame coach offered high praise.
"There's nobody better, I don't think, in end-of-the-game situations, making plays and great decisions,'' Jim Boeheim said.
Meanwhile, Parker looked a lot like an 18-year-old. Trying to score inside against the Syracuse zone, he was defiant to the point of stubborn, bound and determined to do it his way even if his way wasn't working.
With 14:13 left in the first half, he drove under the hoop but was met on the way up by Christmas. Jump ball. Possession: Syracuse.
At the 4:20 mark, he tried a baseline dunk and was snuffed again.
Then, in the final ignominy, Parker took off on a fast break late in the second half. He managed to swing around Ennis on the way to the hoop, but Christmas was there to greet him again and swatted the ball away.
"Yeah, I remember that play,'' Christmas said with a smile. "I knew he was going to try and dunk it, and I didn't want to let him.''
Parker played just 26 minutes before fouling out on a questionable offensive foul. He scored 15 points but took 16 shots to get there.
To his credit, Parker never backed down, never showed even a hint of bad body language.
But afterward, his Hall of Fame coach offered some suggestions instead of praise.
"What you hope is you use a shot fake and get to the foul line,'' Mike Krzyzewski said. "They block shots. That's something they do every game. And when it's over and over, you have to look for a kick [pass] because the kicks are open on offensive rebounds. You might get an open 3. For Jabari, it's a good learning experience for him. It's a good growing experience.''
Which is what your freshman year is supposed to be about: growing, learning, being on your own.
That's how it's been for Jack Rose. His biggest pregame worry on this attention-filled Saturday was trying to figure out the right message for his sign -- something that was clever, topical and would get him on television. Life isn't quite that simple, though, for every freshman, at least not the ones named Tyler Ennis and Jabari Parker.