Syracuse had its game against San Diego State won in the first half.
The No. 11 Orange held No. 6 SDSU scoreless for the final 9:41 of the first half to take a commanding 14-point halftime lead on the way to a 78-62 Midwest region rout in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday night.
The Aztecs tried to shoot over Syracuse's famed 2-3 zone in the first half to disastrous effect. SDSU was 3-of-20 from behind the 3-point line and shot less than 25% from the field in the first 20 minutes.
After taking an 18-41 lead with 9:41 to go in the first half, Syracuse scored the final 18 points of the half to take a 32-18 lead at the break. The lead extended to 16 before Jordan Schakel hit a three to finally break a scoring drought that lasted over 10 minutes of game time.
Things somehow got worse for San Diego State from there. After cutting the lead to 11 at 40-29 the Aztecs never got any closer thanks to Buddy Boeheim’s hot shooting. The son of Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim finished with 30 points and was 7-of-10 from behind the arc.
Syracuse shot 14-of-26 from 3-point range. It was a school-record number of 3-pointers in an NCAA tournament game.
Syracuse's history as a double-digit seed
Syracuse hasn’t been a top-five seed since the 2014 NCAA tournament. And that lack of regular-season success hasn’t stopped the Orange from doing well in the NCAA tournament.
The Orange has appeared in three NCAA tournaments since it was a No. 3 seed in 2014. It’s gotten to the Sweet 16 in two of those three appearances — and it was a double-digit seed both of those times.
The Orange made the Final Four as a No. 10 seed in 2016. Two years later, the Orange made the Sweet 16 as a No. 11 seed.
Is another Sweet 16 in the cards? It’s hard not to have those dreams as a Syracuse fan after the way the team played against an Aztecs team that had lost four games all season. Granted, it’s hard to keep opponents under 20 percent from three on a consistent basis, but Syracuse made 55% of its shots and also grabbed more rebounds.
San Diego's sour finish
The Aztecs were one of the best teams in the country in 2019-20. SDSU was 30-2 and won the Mountain West regular season title before the college basketball world came to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic.
SDSU would have been a top-three seed with legitimate Final Four hopes had the tournament happened last year. This year, the team returned Matt Mitchell and Jordan Schakel and beat UCLA and Arizona State before reeling off 14 consecutive wins and a Mountain West tournament title ahead of the NCAA tournament.
That winning streak came to a grinding halt Friday night.
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