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The roller-coast like ride that was the Syracuse basketball season came to an end Sunday night in a 66-62 upset loss to the Marquette Golden Eagles in the NCAA Tournament's round of 32. The Golden Eagles (seeded No. 11 in the East Region) earned a trip to the Sweet 16, a place SU went to the past two years, for the first time since 2003.
Marquette earned its victory Sunday the same way they did on Jan. 29. The Golden Eagles attacked SU's 2-3 zone with penetrating guards that forced the Orange to commit personal fouls, which led to a lot of Marquette free-throw attempts that they made (19-of. Then on defense, the Golden Eagles were in the Orange player's faces all night, which led to too many turnovers (18) that wouldn't allow SU to pull away.
Kudos to Marquette head coach Buzz Williams who did an excellent job of preparing his players, who executed the Golden Eagles game plan extremely well. They were the best team on the court Sunday night and the final score backs that up.
It's tough to see senior forward Rick Jackson's steady Orange career come to end. According to the SU atheltic website, "Today’s contest marked Rick Jackson’s 143rd career game played, which ties his for second in program history with Derrick Coleman. He added seven points, four rebounds and three steals."
Jackson finished the season averaging double-double per game (13.3 points per game and 10.5 rebounds per game). The 6-foot-9 bean poll (that's now) built out of muscle will go down as one of those stories fans tell their grand kids about.
"(Head coach) Jim Boeheim and (associate head coach) Bernie Fine were such great developers of talent. Look at Hakim Warrick or Rick Jackson..." fans will say years from now after Jimmy B and Fine are long gone.
Jackson earned the Big East Defensive Player Of The Year and fell just short of earning All-Big East First Team honors (Jackson was named to the second team). The Philadelphia native was easy to root for, but his collegiate development ended just one year too short (I think with one more year, he'd be a possible All-American candidate) which ended up being SU's downfall.
The lack of a go-to presence really hurt Syracuse this season and in the end it was the true reason for its conclusion. As much as I like that junior guard Scoop Jardine has the swagger to take the big shot (which he has made before) the odds just are not in SU's favor when the shot goes up.
For some reason, junior forward Kris Joseph's game didn't take the large leap that many thought it would. The 2010 Big East Sixth Man Of The Year finally was given the reins to SU's offense, but just wasn't that Wesley Johnson or Gerry McNamra-like player that fans thought he would be. Maybe, fans were just a year too early on Joseph. I guess, next year they will find out.
The progression of sophomore guard Brandon Triche was very nice to see. How much was his presence missed in the final minutes against Marquette is tough to judge. (I don't think it would have made much of a difference.) However, the fact that Triche produced a few, "Wow, this kid is really going to be special" moments was nice to witness. It's possible that he'll take the "go-to guy" step during the offseason.
There are much more things to get to when it comes to Syracuse's 2010-'11 campaign, but we can cover that in the upcoming days, weeks, ect. For now, just be thankful that No. 2-seeded Notre Dame will probably lose to No. 10 Florida State (they're down 54-40 with about eight minute to go) and the Orange wont be leading Sports Center come Monday morning.
Junior guard Darius Johnson-Odom scored a team-best 17 points and nailed a huge 3-point bucket with 27 second remaining in the game to help the No. 11-seed Marquette Golden Eagles upset No. 3 Syracuse Orange, 66-62, in a third-round NCAA Tournament contest. The Golden Eagles (22-14) advances to East Region's round of 16 to play No. 2 seed North Carolina Tar Heels, who defeated No. 7 Washington Huskies, 86-83, earlier in the day. Syracuse will end its season with a 27-8 overall record.
Johnson-Odom scored just five points in the second half, but his 3-pointer gave Marquette a 62-59 advantage. On SU's next possession, junior guard Scoop Jardine game-tying 3 missed long. Golden Eagles' guard Junior Cadougan snagged the rebound and then nailed two free throws, after immediately being fouled by Jardine, to extend Marquette's margin to 66-61 with 16 second to play. The disadvantage was too much with too little time and SU's bid for a third straight "Sweet 16" run ended.
Syracuse, which trailed 34-31 at halftime, committed 18 turnovers, including two huge ones that occurred on back-to-back possession in the final minute and a half. The first came after Marquette's Jae Crowder made a 3-pointer with 2:26 to go that tied the game at 59. On the next SU possession, sophomore forward James Southerland tried to toss inside to teammate senior forward Rick Jackson, but Marquette's Jimmy Bulter intercepted the pass.
The second happened after Marquette's Cadougan was whistled with a travel on the Golden Eagles next possession. With a chance to reclaim the lead, SU freshman Dion Waiters, who was positioned just inside the midcourt line after a timeout, misfired a pass to Jardine, who was called for a over-and-back violation.
The loss spoiled a career day from Waiters, who finished with a team and collegiate-best 18 points. Jackson ended with seven points, four rebounds and three steals in his Orange finale. Joseph tallied 12 points and nine points. Jardine had just six points on 2-of-8 shooting.
Sophomore guard Brandon Triche, who netted eight of SU's first 10 points in the first half, finished with just eight points after leaving the game with 15:36 to go with a bruised tailbone. Triche never returned.
Marquette's Crowder tallied 16 points, which included making 7-of-8 from the free throw line, and collected seven rebounds. Bulter finished with 10 points, five rebounds, three steals and three assists.
The Golden Eagles did an outstanding job of attacking SU's 2-3 zone defense. Marquette forced Syracuse to commit 23 personal fouls, which led to the Golden Eagles shooting 19-of-23 (82.3 percent) from the free throw line. The Orange made just 5-of-7 from the charity stripe.
The Syracuse basketball program will now wait for the final releasing of the AP poll and USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll to see if its finishes the season ranked in the top 25.
Syracuse sophomore guard Brandon Triche has netted a team-best eight points for the No. 3-seeded Syracuse Orange, but the No. 11 Marquette Golden Eagles have a 34-31 halftime in a third-round NCAA Tournament contest in Cleveland, OH. The winner will advance to the round of 16 to play No. 2 North Carolina Tar Heels, who defeated No. 7 Washington earlier in the evening.
Junior guard Darius Johnson-Odom has game-best 12 points for Marquette, which used a late 9-2 run, which included six points from senior guard Jimmy Bulter, to take the three-point advantage into the locker room.
Sophomore guard Brandon Triche scored eight of SU's first 10 points and senior forward Rick Jackson added a jumper to help SU (27-7) take an early 14-6 advantage just seven minutes into the game. By the midway point, SU had increased its margin to 10 points, 19-9, when junior forward Kris Joseph's attempted dunk caromed into the cylinder.
Marquette responded with an impressive12-2 run, which included eight points from junior guard Darius Johnson-Odom, to tie the game at 21 with five and a half minutes to go in the half. After a Syracuse timeout, sophomore guard James Southerland nailed a 3-pointer for the Orange, who went on a 8-2 run to take a 29-23 lead with 3:09 to go.
Triche has a team-best eight points, while Joseph has six. Marquette is out-rebounding Syracuse, 16-13.
From Sports Network:
The Tar Heels (28-7) used an 11-2 run to erase a five-point deficit and will head to the Sweet 16 for the 24th time in their illustrious history. Seeded second in the East Region, North Carolina will face the winner between Syracuse and Marquette next Friday in Newark, New Jersey.
Terrence Ross scored 19 points and Matt Bryan-Amaning chipped in 14 for Washington (24-11), which was denied a second straight trip to the Sweet 16."
An Orange victory on Sunday night (7:45 p.m. on truTV) would setup the third NCAA Tournament meeting between North Carolina basketball and Syracuse basketball. In 1987, the Orange triumphed over the Tar Heels in the Regional finals, 79-75. In 1975, SU downed North Carolina, 78-76. The Tar Heels lone NCAA tournament victory over SU came in 1957 (67-58). Last season, Syracuse beat North Carolina, 87-71, in the championship game of the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden, Nov. 20.
The No. 3-seeded Syracuse Orange will try to advance to the NCAA Tournament round of 16 for the third time in as many years Sunday night, but a familiar Big East Conference foe, the No. 11 Marquette Golden Eagles, stand in their way in a third-round East Regional contest (7:45 p.m. on truTV) in Cleveland, OH. The winner of the matchup will advance to play either No. 2 North Carolina Tar Heels or No. 7 Washington Huskies in the region's semifinals held in Newark, N.J.
On Friday, the Orange (27-7) easily defeated No. 14 Indiana State Sycamores, 77-60, to earn their fifth NCAA Tournament victory in three years. Senior forward Rick Jackson netted a team-best 23 points and seven rebounds to guide Syracuse to its second-round victory. SU's hopes of moving on hinge on Jackson's play, which usually features 13.3 points per game and 10.5 rebounds per game. The Big East Defensive Player Of The Year will also need a better performance Sunday than he did on Jan. 29 -- a 76-70 loss to Marquette that featured Jackson netting 14 points, but collecting just four rebounds.
If Jackson struggles then SU's outside shooting will need to propel the Orange. Junior forward Kris Joseph, SU's leading scorer with 14.3 ppg, has been the leader of SU's outside attack. However, during the Orange's last six games, junior point guard Scoop Jardine (12.7 ppg) has been shooting a blazing 48.4 percent from behind the 3-point arc (31 attempts). On the flip side, sophomore guard Brandon Triche (11.2 ppg) is shooting just 29.4 percent from 3-point land in SU's last three games.
Off the bench, freshman forward C.J. Fair, who tallied 14 bench points on Thursday, has been outstanding. Fair scored 10 points in the Orange's last meeting with Marquette.
In that victory, Marquette was successful in both going through and shooting over SU's famous 2-3 zone defense. Junior guard Darius Johnson-Odom netted 12 of his 17 points in the first half, while senior guard Jimmy Butler scored 19 on 6-of-12 shooting. Crowder, who is a 6-foot-6, 225-pounder with an athletic build, was deadly from both inside and out, making 8-of-16 attempts and collecting seven rebounds.
The key for a Golden Eagles victory will be for Crowder to repeat his versatile play and for Butler (15.9 ppg) and Johnson-Odom, the team's leading scorer with 16.0 ppg, to sink shots from the outside.
Game notes: The pairing between two conference squads is not the norm for the NCAA Tournament, but this will be the second time that two of the 11 Big East invitees will meet each other in the 68-team field. On Saturday, the No. 3 Connecticut Huskies defeated No. 6 Cincinnati Bearcats, 69-58, to move on to the West Regional semifinals held in Anaheim, CA.... Overall this season, Marquette is scoring 75.8 ppg while allowing 68.7 ppg to opponents.
-- Some information for this piece was provided by Sports Network.