Thursday, December 14, 2017
Sports

Syracuse avoids infamy, escapes 16 seed

PITTSBURGH — Syracuse was staring at NCAA Tournament history. A No. 1 seed had never lost to a No. 16 seed, and the Orange trailed North Carolina-Asheville with just more than six minutes to play.

Led by reserve forward James Southerland and helped by two controversial calls, Syracuse rallied for a 72-65 victory Thursday.

Most of the sellout crowd of 18,927 was behind the underdogs throughout the second half and the crowd was irate over the final two minutes with calls that went against the Bulldogs.

The Orange (32-2) held Asheville (24-10) to one field goal over the final minute while it made 6-of-7 free throws.

Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach, livid at the calls, suggested his team was better.

"I don't think luck had anything to do with this game," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said, "and I think the better team won."

It was the third time a 16th seed led a No. 1 at halftime. Fairfield led North Carolina 35-28 in 1997, and Holy Cross led Kansas 37-35 in 2002. The Tar Heels won 82-74; the Jayhawks won 70-59.

There have been two one-point wins by No. 1s over 16s — Georgetown over Princeton and Oklahoma over East Tennessee State, both in 1989. One went OT — Michigan State 75-71 over Murray State in 1990.

The Bulldogs got within three points three times in the final 1:04 but Syracuse made its free throws and the officials made the controversial calls.

The first call was a lane violation by Asheville on a missed one-and-one Syracuse free throw with 1:20 left. The Orange went on to make both free throws. With 35 seconds left, the ball appeared to go out of bounds off Syracuse's Brandon Triche but officials gave it to the Orange.

Official Ed Corbett declined to discuss the out-of-bounds play, and said the lane violation was clearly correct.

"It's tough when things don't go your way," said J.P. Primm, who led the Bulldogs with 18 points. "In college basketball, sometimes you have to play everybody in the building."

k-state 70, southern miss 64: Point guard Angel Rodriguez overcame jitters to score seven of his 13 in the final 2:10 as the eighth-seeded Wildcats (22-10) beat the ninth-seeded Golden Eagles (25-9) in Pittsburgh.

At one point coach Frank Martin feared Rodriguez and his fellow freshmen were "going to make me cry on national TV." But Martin said it was no coincidence that Rodriguez — who airballed two shots early and had three turnovers — had the ball in his hands with the season on the line.

"It's not like I trust him with 10 minutes to go and not trust him with two minutes to go," Martin said. "That's why you saw him out there making the plays he made toward the end of the game."

Rodney McGruder led Kansas State with 30 points and Jordan Henriquez added 15 points, nine rebounds and six blocks. Henriquez, a 52 percent free-throw shooter, was 9-of-10 at the line.

Southern Mississippi coach Larry Eustachy returned to the tournament nine years after his ouster at Iowa State led to treatment for alcoholism.

"They say when you start drinking, you stop maturing," Eustachy said. "I didn't appreciate it as much, you know. This is as special as it gets."

gonzaga 77, w. virginia 54: Robert Sacre and Gary Bell scored 14 apiece as the seventh-seeded Bulldogs (26-6) routed the 10th-seeded Mountaineers (19-14) in Pittsburgh. It was West Virginia's worst postseason loss in 28 years, despite a homecourt advantage. "I've never gotten beat like that," Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins said. "We just were never in the game. Shouldn't say 'never.' Maybe a couple times. I don't know. Have to figure it out."

ohio state 78, Loyola (Md.) 59: Deshaun Thomas scored a career-high 31 and had 12 rebounds to lead the second-seeded Buckeyes (28-7) past the 15th-seeded Greyhounds (24-9) in Pittsburgh. Jared Sullinger added 12 points and 11 rebounds for Ohio State, which had a 49-24 rebounding advantage. The Buckeyes twice took a 15-point lead in the first half, and led by 20 in the second half.

Wisconsin 73, Montana 49: Rob Evans scored 18 and Jordan Taylor had 17 points and six assists as the fourth-seeded Badgers (25-9) ended the 13th-seeded Grizzlies' (25-7) school record 14-game winning streak in Albuquerque, N.M. Wisconsin, 10-1 in NCAA Tournament openers under Bo Ryan, held the Grizzlies to a season-low 21 rebounds.

vandy 79, harvard 70: John Jenkins made all six of his free throws down the stretch and finished with 27 points as the fifth-seeded Commodores (25-10) beat the 12th-seeded Crimson (26-5) in Albuquerque, N.M. Laurent Rivard led Harvard with 20 points. The Crimson nearly rallied from 18 down when Vanderbilt failed to make a field goal during the last 5:22.

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