Instant Juice: Syracuse 75, Middle Tennessee 50

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Syracuse is headed to the second weekend in Chicago

A quick take on Syracuse’s 75-50 win over Middle Tennessee State to advance to the Sweet 16:

WHAT HAPPENED: After Reggie Upshaw’s layup pulled Middle Tennessee State within 45-41 with 13:05 left, the Orange went on a 16-0 run to take a 61-41 lead with under six minutes to go. Michael Gbinije provided the impetus to that streak, with seven of his game-high 23 points during that span. That was more than enough to overcome an uneven first half, with SU going into intermission up just 31-27 after having lost an early double-digit lead.

» Related: Syracuse hoping to jumpstart season in NCAA Tourney

ANALYSIS: Raise your hand if you expected Syracuse to make it out of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament? Fortune favored the Orange, with the Blue Raiders knocking off blue blood Michigan State in the first round, which opened up the opportunity for the Orange to make the second weekend. This run seems reminiscent of the 2013 run, when SU saved its best basketball for the postseason. Syracuse stymied its opponent for the second straight game, holding the Blue Raiders to 29.7 percent from the field, while the Orange shot 55.1 percent. SU also shot well from downtown, connecting on 8-20 from that range.

HERO: Tyler Lydon came off the bench and helped the Orange lock the back end of the zone with six blocks to go along with 14 points (despite missing four early free throws). Tyler Roberson fell one rebound short of his second straight double-digit rebounding game, with 12 points and nine rebounds. With the win, the Orange join five other ACC teams in the final 16, an impressive conference feat.

ZERO: Darnell Harris and Upshaw combined to shoot 5-23 from the field and 1-6 from 3 for 13 points.

WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse will travel to Chicago for the Midwest Regional Championship to face Gonzaga, the 11th seeded team in the region.

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Wes Cheng

About Wes Cheng

Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.
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