A quick take on Syracuse’s dominant 78-62 win over San Diego State on Friday night in the NCAA Tournament’s Second Round:
WHAT HAPPENED: Already up 32-18 at half, Buddy Boeheim’s torrid first half continued into the second. He buried a pair of 3-pointers as part of an 8-0 run to give Syracuse an insurmountable 48-29 lead, and the Orange upset the sixth-seeded Aztecs to move to the third round of the NCAA Tournament. After a cold start for both teams, the Orange could do little wrong on offense, finishing shooting 54.3 percent from the field and 15-27 downtown. Boeheim, who came in averaging 25.2 ppg over his last four games, was spectacular once again, finishing with 30 points on 7-10 shooting from beyond the arc.
ANALYSIS: As good as Syracuse was on offense, it was just as impressive on defense, completely baffling San Diego State with its vaunted 2-3 zone. The Aztecs were content to try to beat the zone by shooting over the top of it, hitting just 11 of its 40 shots from 3-point land, and 34.8 percent overall. Though SDSU turned the ball only five times, they also only went to the line seven times throughout the night.
HERO: Normally at this time of the year, Jim Boeheim has whittled down his rotation to six players, or begrudgingly, seven. But in a rarity, Jim Boeheim willingly subbed in an effective eight-man rotation, with Jesse Edwards (5 rebounds), Robert Braswell (nine points) and Kadary Richmond (5 points) all playing key minutes off the bench. Outside of Buddy Boeheim, Marek Dolezaj chipped in 11 points, four rebounds, five assists and two blocks. Joe Girard added 12 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
ZERO: MWC Player of the Year Matt Mitchell curiously settled for 3-pointers, and the Orange was willing to let him fire (and miss) freely. Mitchell finished with 17 points, but shot 1-9 from 3-point land. Terrell Gomez had similar struggles, shooting 1-7 from downtown for 3 points. For Syracuse, Alan Griffin played poorly for the second straight game, going scoreless on 0-2 shooting from the field.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse will take on the winner of No. 3 West Virginia and No. 14 Morehead State, which was underway at the conclusion of SU’s win.