A quick take on Syracuse’s 77-53 blowout of Western Michigan in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in front of a decidedly pro-Orange crowd in nearby Buffalo, NY:
WHAT HAPPENED: Trevor Cooney scored four points as part of a 10-0 run that propelled the Orange to 17-4 lead with 12:06 left in the first half, eliminating any possibility of an upset early on. Syracuse would go into half up 40-21 after shooting better than 50 percent from the field, and continued their torrid shooting in the second half to enjoy a rare blowout win.
ANALYSIS: The Orange limped into the NCAA Tournament losers of 5 of 7 games, including a putrid performance in the ACC Tournament that saw the Orange shoot 32 percent in a 66-63 loss to NC State. But SU seemed to leave its struggles behind in Greensboro, playing one of its best all around games in nearly two months. The offense came easy and naturally, with the Orange shooting 49 percent from the field. On defense, the Broncos seemed helpless against a stifling zone that generated 8 steals and 6 blocks. SU was even stellar on the glass, outrebounding Western Michigan 41-25.
HERO: Cooney finished with 18 points, thawing from his prolonged slump. The mercurial shooting guard drained four 3-pointers en route to his best shooting game since his nine 3-pointer performance on Feb. 3 performance against Notre Dame. A fully healthy Jerami Grant threw down some thunderous dunks, and chipped in 16.
ZERO: It was clear Western Michigan wasn’t prepared for the length and athleticism of the 2-3 zone, as they committed 11 first half turnovers and shot 34 percent from the field (4-18 from downtown) for the game. Connar Tava and David Brown felt the brunt of the crush, shooting a combined 3-21.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse will face Dayton in the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday. Dayton defeated Ohio State in the earlier matchup after Vee Sanford’s shot with less than four seconds left put the Flyers up 60-59. Ohio State’s Aaron Craft had a final chance to win, but his shot in the paint rimmed out as time expired.