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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Syracuse beats Wisconsin, advances to Elite Eight after Badgers falter at end

BOSTON — Wisconsin had Syracuse in the crosshairs in a game in which the Badgers were deadly accurate from three-point range, making 14 of 27 three-pointers over the Orange’s trademark 2-3 zone defense. At one point in the second half, Wisconsin made six straight threes to take a 56-53 lead.

With 19 seconds remaining, Syracuse was clinging to a 64-63 lead, but Kris Joseph missed the front end of a one-and-one. The Badgers rebounded and put the ball in the hands of All-American guard Jordan Taylor, and he got the open look he wanted from beyond the top of the arc. But Wisconsin had gone to the well one too many times as Taylor’s shot bounced off the rim to give the Orange the 64-63 victory in their NCAA East Regional semifinal Thursday night at TD Bank Garden.

Syracuse (34-2) advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since its 2003 championship season. They will have a matchup on Saturday night against the winner of Thursday night’s late semifinal between Ohio State and Cincinnati.

Taylor and Jared Berggren led Wisconsin (26-10) with 17 points apiece and combined to make eight of 12 three-pointers. But Syracuse shot 55.1 percent from the field against the Badgers’ man-to-man that led the nation in scoring defense with an average of 52.9 points. C.J. Fair, who entered the game in a shooting slump, led the way with 15 points on 7-for-9 shooting and added seven rebounds; Scoop Jardine scored 14, Dion Waiters added 13 and Brandon Triche totaled 11.

Wisconsin had no trouble with Syracuse’s zone in the early going as the 6-10 Berggren operated effectively inside and out. Berggren scored 10 straight Badgers points, four in the paint and six from three-point range, to build a 15-9 lead. But Berggren had to leave the game at 12:03 after committing his second foul.

That sent super sub Waiters to the line, and he hit two foul shots to ignite what turned into a 24-8 Syracuse run for a 33-23 lead. It ended with 11 unanswered Orange points. The Badgers managed to cut the difference to 33-27 at halftime, but Waiters’ pregame comment that man-to-man teams have trouble stopping Syracuse was borne out in the first half when the Orange shot 63.6 percent.

Taylor jump-started Wisconsin’s offense with two threes early in the second half, and when Rob Wilson buried a three-pointer with 15:46 left, the game was tied at 40. Then Fair warmed up for the Orange, scoring six in an 8-1 burst for a 48-41 lead.

It was clear the Badgers had to match Syracuse on the offensive end, and they turned to their three-point shooting to do it. Five straight three-pointers by Berggren, Ben Brust, Taylor, Josh Gasser and Brust again gave Wisconsin a 56-53 lead. At that point, eight of the Badgers’ nine second-half field goals were threes.

That was similar to the formula Cincinnati used to upset Syracuse in the Big East Tournament semifinals. Fair tied the game at 56 with a conventional three-point play, but then Taylor hit Wisconsin’s sixth straight three for a 59-56 lead. The spell was broken when Ryan Evans missed a three with 6:17 remaining.

That sparked a 6-0 Syracuse burst, including two baskets by Waiters, as the Orange regained a 62-59 lead. Evans made only the second two-point field goal of the half for Wisconsin to cut it to one before Jardine made a pair of free throws for a 64-61 Syracuse lead with 3:50 left. Brust cut it to one again with two foul shots with 32 seconds left. They turned out to be the last points of the game when Wisconsin misfired in the final seconds.

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