After two long years, Syracuse got its revenge on Dayton. The 10th-seeded Orange handled the 7th-seeded Flyers on Friday afternoon, 70-51.
Syracuse will now play the winner of (15)Middle Tennessee State at 6:10pm Eastern and will be televised on TNT.
The Orange came out in the first half a bit careless, and struggled to get on the scoreboard. After roughly three minutes without scoring a point, Michael Gbinije hit two free throws, tying the game at two.
For a while, Syracuse was unable to get much of anything going offensively, although defensively contained Dayton well. The Orange exposed a significant size advantage of the Flyers, as it out-rebounded Dayton, 20-14, in the first half.
Freshman Malachi Richardson carried the Orange in the first half, scoring a first-half-high 10 points. Tyler Roberson was "plugged in" and brought his A-game. He finished the first half with six points and nine rebounds. Roberson passed the eye-test on Friday, and he looked the same as when he dominated at Cameron Indoor earlier this season. He finished with 14 points and a career-high 20 points against No. 20 Duke.
SU's 11 first-half turnovers kept the Flyers hanging around. UD scored ten points off of those 11 turnovers. Dayton had just six turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
Scoochie Smith scored nine points for the Flyers in the first half. Syracuse led 30-28 at the break.
The second half was all Orange. Malachi Richardson continued to score at an elite level, Tyler Roberson continued his first-half dominance and Jim Boeheim's famous 2-3 zone was in full effect.
"The second opportunities were one thing," Boeheim explained. "The other thing we didn't want them to do is get set from the 3-point line. First half they got a couple good ones, but a couple of them were in transition. They got the ball inside, but their 6-6 guys were shooting over our 6-10 guys. They missed some shots around the basket."
"I think our rebounding was tremendous today. Tyler was great. Eliminated section shots, opportunities and that's what has hurt us at times this year," the Hall-of-Famer said.
Through the first 11 minutes of the second half, Syracuse had extended its lead to 20 points, and the Flyers had only five second-half points.
"I wish I could say it was our defense," Boeheim said. "They missed easy baskets. WE stopped turning it over, but they missed some easy shots. But hey, we'll take it," he joked. "I thought we played well offensively in the second half. They're a good defensive team. I thought we did some really good things. We did a good job on the boards and didn't give them second shots.
After a sluggish first half, Trevor Cooney was able to get going in the second half. He hit a couple of 3-pointers, and found his way into double figures. He finished with 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting.
"It feels really good," Cooney said. "To win a game in the NCAA Tournament feels good and to beat a team that beat you last time adds a little bit to it."
Richardson scored a game-high 21 points on 5-of-12 shooting. Friday was his best performance of the season, and it came when Syracuse needed it most.
"Malachi did a great job this game we just played," senior Michael Gbinije said. "He was aggressive. He got in the lane and made plays when we needed him."
"He was really aggressive," Cooney added. "He took what the defense gave him and he got in the lane and made plays."
"I just wanted to come out, play well and keep advancing and dancing," Richardson said after the game. "We just need to keep getting better and keep getting stops on the defensive end."
Tyler Lydon added 14 points and seven rebounds in the win. Tyler Roberson finished with 10 points and 18 rebounds.
The Orange will now play the winner of 2nd-seeded Michigan State and 15th-seeded Middle Tennessee State on Sunday in St. Louis.
"I've seen Michigan State 10 times, probably, this year. All 10 of those games won't matter because they played man-to-man," SU's head coach said. "So all those tapes don't help us at all, you know."
Dayton finished the season 25-8.
Syracuse improved to 20-13.