Syracuse overcame poor shooting and a partisan crowd to earn a return trip to the round of 16. C. J. Fair scored 18 points, James Southerland...
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Syracuse overcame poor shooting and a partisan crowd to earn a return trip to the round of 16.
C.J. Fair scored 18 points, James Southerland added 14 and the fourth-seeded Orange survived a second-half drought of more than 12 minutes without a field goal to beat No. 12 seed California 66-60 on Saturday night in the NCAA tournament.
Syracuse (28-9) frustrated the Golden Bears with its zone defense to overcome a dismal shooting night when it made just 39 percent of its shots and missed 15 of 41 free throws.
It was enough to send the Orange to Washington, D.C., for the East Regional where they will play Thursday against the winner of Sunday’s game between top-seeded Indiana and Temple.
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Richard Solomon scored 22 points for the Golden Bears (21-12), who were trying to make it to the round of 16 for the first time in 16 years and just the third time since 1960.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim earned his 50th career NCAA tournament win as the Orange reached the regional semifinals for the fourth time in five years. This might have been one of the ugliest of those wins as Syracuse struggled to make a basket in the second half, relying on strong play on the defensive end and a parade to the foul line.
The teams combined for just three made baskets in the first 10:50 of the second half and Syracuse went almost six minutes without even taking a shot as Cal committed seven shooting fouls in the opening 6:02. The Orange hit eight of 14 free throws to extend its lead to 42-30, but went 12:13 without making a basket from the field.
As frustrated as the Bears and their fans were with the lopsided foul count, Syracuse’s 2-3 zone defense was even more confounding. Pac-12 Player of the Year Allen Crabbe found no room to get off a shot, with the Syracuse defenders closing quickly on him even when he caught the ball 25 feet from the basket.
Point guard Justin Cobbs also struggled against the zone and even when Cal got the ball inside, Rakeem Christmas and Baye Moussa Keita were there to block or alter the shot.
Marquette 74, Butler 72
In Lexington, Ky., Vander Blue scored 19 second-half points to rally third-seeded Marquette out of another hole, and the Golden Eagles survived No. 6 Butler to reach the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament.
Like November’s first meeting between the teams at the Maui Invitational, won 72-71 by Butler on Rotnei Clarke’s buzzer-beating three-pointer, this was a back-and-forth, high-intensity affair that came down to the final shot.
Only this time, Butler missed.
Marquette (25-8) will meet the winner of Sunday’s game between Illinois and Miami on Thursday in the East Regional semifinals in Washington, D.C.
Clarke’s 24 points led Butler (28-9).
Blue, the junior whose last-second layup edged Davidson on Thursday, led the Golden Eagles’ rally from a 35-27 halftime deficit and tied the score at 69 on a three-pointer with 1:25 remaining. That set the stage for more late-game drama by his teammates.
After Jamil Wilson’s two free throws made it 71-69, Davante Gardner deflected Clarke’s pass intended for Kellen Dunham underneath and then made the first of three late free throws for a 74-70 lead with 4.7 seconds left.
After Wilson’s goaltend on what would have been a layup by Andrew Smith cut the lead to two points two seconds later, Blue almost became the goat by throwing away the inbounds pass intended for Wilson with 2.9 seconds left.
Blue scored 29 points. He shot 9 of 15 from the field with three from long range.