Despite the opponent making 51.9-percent of its 3-point attempts, the No 1-seeded Syracuse Orange edged the No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers, 64-63, in a NCAA Tournament, Sweet 16 match-up in Boston, Ma. The Orange (34-2) advance to the Elite-8 round to face either No. 2 Ohio St. Buckeyes or No. 6 Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday.
Sophomore forward C.J. Fair netted a team-best 15 points and collected seven rebounds to lead Syracuse, which controlled the tempo of the game. However, the Badgers' lethal 3-point shooting, including five treys from senior guard Jordan Taylor (game-high 17 points), made it close and resulted in this dramatic finish.
In the end, defense was the key, as no team made a field goal in the game's final 4 minutes, 13 seconds.
"We believe in our defense," said Syracuse's senior point guard Scoop Jardine after the game. "We didn't panic, we stayed with them and we got the stop to win the game."
The contest came down to two free throws from Jardine with 3:50 to play, which gave the Orange a slim 64-61 advantage, after leading by as much as seven points with about 12 minutes to play.
The game got closer, as Wisconsin's sophomore forward Josh Gasser answered with two free throws with 31 seconds remaining, however, the Badgers last chance to earn another March Madness victory disappeared when Taylor's go-ahead shot, with time dwindling down, was short and a final, desperation attempt was way off.
"That's the best game anybody has ever played against us and didn't win," said Orange head coach Jim Boeheim, who has coached at SU for 36 seasons and earned his first Sweet 16 victory since 2003.
"I've followed Wisconsin all year and I've never seen them play like this. They really played a great game."
Jardine finished the contest with 14 points, while sophomore guard Dion Waiters netted 13. Junior guard Brandon Triche added 11. Overall, the Orange shot 55.1-percent from the field (27-for-49), including 5-for-9 from behind the 3-point arc.
Wisconsin and Syracuse were even in rebound margin (23-23), however, the difference was the Badgers 3-point shooting, which also featured three from each junior forward Jared Berggren (17 points) and sophomore guard Ben Burst (nine). The difference, probably, was Berggren sitting late in the first half because of foul trouble.
In the first half, Wisconsin took an early 20-18 lead after beginning the game 8-for-12 from the field, including 4-for-8 from behind the 3-point line.
The Orange used a 15-5 run, which featured six points from Fair and Berggren mostly sitting, to take a 33-23 lead with 2:31 to go. Syracuse ended the half ahead 33-27.