No. 6 Syracuse 56, Princeton 45
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP)—Syracuse was in a zone, and Princeton had no answer for it.
Burned early by Princeton’s motion offense against their man-to-man defense, the Orange switched to their zone. The Tigers managed just five free throws over the final 8:41 and No. 6 Syracuse held on for a 56-45 victory in the second round of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on Friday night.
“We wasted a lot of time in practice over the last two weeks playing man-to-man,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “Against Princeton, we looked like we never practiced it. We felt all along we would play some zone but felt we could get by a little longer than we did.”
Hakim Warrick had 20 points for Syracuse (2-0), which advanced to the semifinals at Madison Square Garden next Thursday against No. 12 Mississippi State. Princeton (1-1), which beat Bucknell 61-48 in the first round, built that early lead and held its own until the closing minutes.
Syracuse rallied from a 14-5 deficit to lead 28-22 at halftime and built a 34-24 lead on a three-point play by Warrick with 17:13 remaining.
But the Tigers rallied to tie it at 37-all on Luke Owings’ layup, which came after 10 passes. After Demetris Nichols hit a 3-pointer for Syracuse, Max Schaefer tied it at 40-all with a 3 at 8:41.
That was the Tigers’ last field goal against the Syracuse zone.
“We keyed in on defense,” said Terrence Roberts, who had eight points and six rebounds for the Orange despite a sore left knee injured the previous game. “That was the main thing. We knew we had to be mentally prepared to play defense.”
Josh Pace broke the tie with a runner in the lane and Gerry McNamara hit a 3-pointer from the left wing to give Syracuse a 47-41 lead with 6:07 left. It was Pace’s first points of the game and McNamara’s first basket since the opening minute of play. Pace, McNamara and center Craig Forth, all starters, combined for only 12 points and Syracuse managed only two fast-break baskets in the game.
“It’s different than the way we’ve been playing,” said Warrick, who was selected the tournament’s MVP. “They really do a good job of making you work for everything. It was tough not getting shots and going to the line, but we did a real good job of keeping our composure.”
Will Venable led the Tigers with 17 points and six rebounds and Judson Wallace had 11 points.
Nichols had 14 points for the Orange.
Princeton shot 39.5 percent for the game and Syracuse finished at 42.9 percent.
In the first round, the Orange hit nine of their first 10 shots, jumped to a 24-0 lead and beat Northern Colorado 104-54. It wasn’t so easy against the Tigers.
After McNamara hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key just 19 seconds into the game, Princeton went 6-for-9 and reeled off a 14-2 spurt while the Orange hit just 2-of-11 shots. Venable had six points to key the run and Scott Greenman’s 3-pointer gave Princeton a 14-5 lead at 13:10 despite two shot-clock violations.
“We just about put ourselves in position to have a chance o win the game,” first-year Princeton coach Joe Scott said. “Syracuse couldn’t guard us man-to-man, but they have something to go to that really is their staple. I don’t know if there’s another team in America that could have done that to us.”