NEW YORK >> Seconds after the opening tipoff, Jim Boeheim adopted his signature sideline posture. He folded his arms and stood in front of the Syracuse bench. Several minutes elapsed, a stretch that featured a handful of Seton Hall 3-pointers, and Boeheim remained in the exact same spot. Finally, he sat down and rested his chin in his right palm, another Boeheim hallmark. He did not appear to be enjoying his afternoon.
It was so typical of his team, mired in a late-season swoon, that it would fall behind early to an overmatched, fatigued opponent Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. What was not so typical was fifth-seeded Syracuse’s resolve, which revealed itself in a
75-63 victory in the second round of the Big East tournament.
James Southerland drained six 3-pointers and scored 20 points, and Michael Carter-Williams tied a tournament record with 14 assists as Syracuse (24-8) powered past 12th-seeded Seton Hall (15-18), which was winded after needing overtime to defeat South Florida in Tuesday’s first round.
For one afternoon, at least, Boeheim’s players seemed determined not to let the curtain drop on a remarkable era. For 34 years, Boeheim has been synonymous with this event, which Syracuse has won five times.
But this is also the Orange’s final appearance before departing next season for the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Seton Hall ran out to a 24-14 lead. Six of the team’s first eight field goals were 3-pointers, including three from senior guard Kyle Smyth. If the Pirates were going to beat Syracuse’s vaunted zone defense, swinging the ball around the perimeter and launching outside shots was the way to do it.
Eventually, however, Southerland asserted himself. He scored 14 of Syracuse’s first 21 points, and had 17 as Syracuse scrambled its way back to 34-34 by halftime.
Carter-Williams was nearly flawless. He committed only one turnover while equaling the assists record held by Mark Jackson, Pearl Washington and Brandin Knight.
Boeheim was unusually contemplative in his postgame news conference. In response to a question about whether he felt any different walking into the Garden this time around, Boeheim talked about former commissioners Dave Gavitt and Mike Tranghese, about playing at the old Garden as a college sophomore (“the old, old Garden”) and about games long gone.
“Walter Berry should have never blocked Pearl’s shot,” Boeheim said, referring to the 1986 championship game against St. John’s. “It would have been a happy ending.”
This week, he has one last shot at another.
No. 24 Notre Dame 69,Rutgers 61
NEW YORK >> Pat Connaughton scored a season-high 21 points and led the Fighting Irish (24-8) past the Scarlet Knights (15-16) in the second round of the Big East tournament.
Notre Dame will face third-seeded and 12th-ranked Marquette in the quarterfinals today.
No. 15 New Mexico 59, Wyoming 46
LAS VEGAS >> Tony Snell scored 15 points and the Lobos (27-5) led from start to finish, beating the Cowboys (19-13) in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament.
Bucknell 64, Lafayette 56
LEWISBURG, Pa. >> Mike Muscala scored six of his 20 points during a decisive second-half stretch to help the Bison (28-5) capture their second NCAA Tournament berth in three seasons by beating the Leopards (19-15) in the Patriot League championship game.