Orange Survive; Move Onto Sweet 16

The Syracuse Orangemen are still defending their national title. Barely that is.<br><br>

Fifth-seeded Syracuse survived a furious rally by No. 4 seed Maryland and advanced to the Sweet 16, with a 72-70 win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the Pepsi Center in Denver on Saturday. The Orangemen will travel to Phoenix to face Alabama on Thursday.

Syracuse ups its record to 23-7. Maryland, the 2002 National Champions finish the campaign with a 20-12 record. The win for the Orangemen was the first-ever over the Terrapins. The two teams met five times previously, with the Terps winning every contest.

Syracuse lead 54-38 at the 13-minute mark of the game, but the pesky Terrapins refused to let the game slip away. Maryland cut the lead to 10 on a three by D.J. Strawberry at 7:31. After a basket by Craig Forth, the Terrapins went on a 5-0 scoring run to cut the lead to seven, 61-54, with 5:12 left. Josh Pace pushed the SU lead to nine, 69-60, with less than two minutes on the clock. Back-to-back field goals by the Terrapins' Travis Garrison and John Gilchrist put the Terrapins to within five, 69-64, with 50 seconds remaining. After two free throws by sophomore Gerry McNamara and another hoop by Garrison, Forth missed two free throws to keep the hopes alive for Maryland. On the ensuing possession, Pace fouled Maryland's Mike Jones on a three-point attempt. Jones made the first two free throws to cut the margin to 71-68, but missed the third. Nik Caner-Medley grabbed the rebound for Maryland and Strawberry connected on a field goal to make the score 71-70. The Terrapins immediately fouled McNamara with seven seconds left to stop the clock. McNamara made 1-of-2 from the line, to give SU a 72-70 margin. Maryland had one final chance tie or win the game, but two shots by Strawberry were off the mark.

"The bottom line is that we played a great 38 minutes and overcame a bad two minutes,"Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said.

Junior Hakim Warrick led the Orangemen with 26 points on 8-of-17 shooting. He also connected on 10-of-15 free throws and contributed nine rebounds. Forth recorded his second double-double of his career in the contest with 10 points and 12 rebounds, both NCAA career bests.

"Hakim was tremendous today," Boeheim said. "When he gets down in the low post, he is very tough to guard."

McNamara, who set an SU NCAA Tournament record with 43 points in the Orange's first-round win against BYU, finished with 13 points and six assists. Pace and freshman Demetris Nichols each added nine points.

"It's not like I didn't have it," McNamara said. "They played tough defense. When you come off a big game, I expected to be pounded. If they zero in on me like they did today, Hakim gets more opportunities and vice versa. Having two threats makes us that much tougher to beat."

Warrick and Forth combined for SU's first 14 points of the game to give the Orange a 14-10 lead with 10:16 left in the first half. Neither team shot well in the first half but Syracuse used runs of 10-0 and 9-0 to take a 32-22 halftime lead. Warrick had 13 points in the half.

McNamara was 0-for-5 from the floor in the first half, including 0-for-4 from 3-point range. Syracuse shot 32 percent in the half and Maryland shot 26 percent.

Syracuse got three's from Nichols and McNamara to start the second half and held a 39-30 advantage with 17:47 remaining in the game. The Orangemen then went on 15-8 run to increase its lead to 16 before the Terrapins began their comeback.

Garrison and Smith scored 16 points each for Maryland and Chris McCray added 10.

The Orangemen forced 17 Maryland turnovers in the game and held the Terrapins to 25.9 percent shooting in the first period.

Syracuse will be making its 14th appearance in the Sweet 16 since 1975 when they battle Alabama on Thursday. The Orangemen and Tide have squared off twice previously with SU winning both contests.

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