Syracuse Advances to the Sweet Sixteen
They say defense wins championships, and that's probably a good thing for the Syracuse Orange men's basketball team.
Offensively Syracuse was downright offensive in its third round matchup against the California Golden Bears - enduring a 12 minute stretch in the second half without a field goal. But defensively speaking, (4) Syracuse (28-9) was in championship form throughout its 66 - 60 East Region victory over (12) California, advancing to its fourth Sweet 16 appearance in the last five years.
The Orange's 2-3 zone held Pac-12 Player of the Year Allan Crabbe to just 8 points on 3 for 9 shooting from the field. And Crabbe wasn't the only Golden Bear to struggle against the length and speed of the Orange. As a team, Cal (21-12) shot just under 40% from the field and only 19% from three point range.
Syracuse took control early due to its stifling defense, forcing 17 Golden Bears' turnovers, and to the play of C.J. Fair. The junior forward finished the game with 18 points while grabbing 6 rebounds. James Southerland, battling foul trouble throughout the game, scored 14 points before fouling out late. Syracuse held a comfortable lead throughout, but it could have been easier. The Orange finished just 26 of 41 from the free throw line - failing to put the game out of reach multiple times.
Cal was led by junior forward Richard Solomon, who tallied 22 points -- hitting on 8 of his 13 free throw attempts. The Golden Bears second leading scorer, Justin Cobbs, who averaged 15.4 points per game during the season, was held to just 5 points on 2 of 9 shooting.
Up next for Syracuse will be the winner of (1) Indiana v. (9) Temple. That game is scheduled to take place Thursday (time TBA) in Washington D.C. The Orange lost to the Owls in December at Madison Square Garden. Syracuse last faced IU in a tournament game in the 1987 championship game, when Keith Smart broke Syracuse's fans hearts with a buzzer-beating shot for Bobby Knight and Indiana.