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Syracuse-Ohio State set for East regional final
Question of the Day
BOSTON (AP) - Get ready for another Big East vs. Big Ten matchup in the NCAA East regional.
So far the conferences are tied at one victory apiece.
But the ways the winners got to Saturday night’s game with a berth in the Final Four at stake were very different Thursday night.
Top-seeded Syracuse edged Wisconsin 64-63 when the Badgers had the ball for the final 18 seconds but couldn’t score. Then second-seeded Ohio State dominated Cincinnati 81-66 in the other semifinal as Jared Sullinger and DeShaun Thomas combined for 49 points and 19 rebounds.
It shouldn’t be that easy for the Buckeyes against Syracuse’s zone defense, which stymied Wisconsin inside.
“I know we’re going to face a 2-3 zone. There’s no hiding that,” Sullinger said. “We’re going to have to try to control the tempo and also we’re going to have to score and execute our offense even though they’re playing 2-3 zone. We can’t just sit back and let them punch us. We’ve got to throw the first punches. Not literally, but …”
Syracuse (34-2) will be facing an opponent with more offensive ability than Wisconsin, which likes to slow the ball down. That nearly worked _ along with outstanding 3-point shooting _ for the Badgers (26-10).
They made 14 of 27 shots from 3-point range.
“I don’t think anybody’s ever made 14 3s against us and we beat them,” Orange coach Jim Boeheim said. “That’s a lot of 3s to overcome.”
But Syracuse shot 55 percent from the field, well above the 38.5 percent Wisconsin gave up this season, and the Orange were 5 of 9 from 3-point range, much better than the 28.8 percent the Badgers allowed.
“Syracuse just has too many athletes that can do so many things, and it’s hard to prepare for that on the defensive end. You think you’re getting things done, but you’re a step behind,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. “So we did the best we could, and I thought we played great defense. Not everybody on the court agreed with that, but I thought we played unbelievable defense for the most part.”
They even had trouble controlling C.J. Fair. He scored 15 points for Syracuse after totaling just 20 in his previous six games.
“It was a nail-biter,” Fair said, “but we made some plays down the stretch and got a couple of stops.”
Syracuse had the win when Jordan Taylor missed a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left and Josh Gasser’s toss after getting the rebound was off the mark at the buzzer.
“It was on line, and I felt like I got my legs into it,” Taylor said. “I knew it was a deep 3, but it felt good, and then to see it kind of come up short was kind of heartbreaking.”
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