A quick take on Syracuse’s gratifying 70-51 win against No. 7 seed Dayton (25-7), in an NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional first round game at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Friday afternoon:
WHAT HAPPENED: Playing as its highest seed ever (No. 10) in an NCAA Tournament, Syracuse (20-13) rebounded from a sloppy first half of shaky shooting and double digit turnovers, to turn up its play in the second half on route to winning going away and gaining a measure of payback against Dayton (25-8) for the 2014 NCAA defeat. Not only did the Orange play great in the second half outscoring the Flyers 40-23, the victory kept the season going into the Round of 32, and the 20th victory extended Jim Boeheim’s ongoing record with his 37th 20-win season.
ANALYSIS: In a game that set back offense with poor shooting by both teams in the first half, the Flyers kept missing, especially in close (14 near the rim misses), although some credit has to go to an active 2-3 Orange zone which held UD to a season low point total, while the ‘Cuse got hot from the outside. The Orange offensive boost came from the scoring explosion of Malachi Richardson who finished with a game-high 21 points, 15 coming in the first half. Syracuse also hit its free throws, a key factor throughout, finishing 20 of 23 from the foul line, and out-rebounded Dayton by a whopping +20.
HEROES: Besides Richardson’s point production, he also chipped in with three assists and four rebounds, and Tyler Lydon had a “quiet” 14 off the bench. Tyler Roberson was a beast on the boards with 18 rebounds, one shy of Derrick Coleman’s post season school record 19 in the 1987 NCAA title game, keeping many offensive opportunities intact (eight), and gobbling up many Dayton misses on the defensive end (10). Roberson also finished with a double-double scoring 10 points.
ZERO: It’s all about winning and advancing in the NCAA Tournament, but unless the Orange cut down on self-inflicted mistakes, it’s going to be hard to keep moving onward. SU committed 11 first half turnovers and finished with 15 overall.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse moves on to play for a berth in the Sweet Sixteen on Sun., March 20 in St. Louis, taking on No. 15 seed Middle Tennessee (25-9) who shocked No. 2 seed Michigan State on Friday 90-81. Game Time: 6:00 p.m. ET / TV: TNT / Digital: March Madness Live.