|Posted on March 14, 2018 at 11:20 PM|
Article by Dan Tortora
The Syracuse Orange entered into their "First Four" contest with the Arizona State Sun Devils with a quest to see who would gain the true 11-seed in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Division-I Men's Basketball Tournament.
True freshman forward Oshae Brissett would get the Orange on the board first when he skied through the middle to gain an offensive rebound off of miss and put the ball up and in at the rim.
Junior point guard Frank Howard would accumulate the next five points for Syracuse, with a deep make followed by a layup to move the Orange ahead 7-3.
A jumper by sophomore forward Mickey Mitchell would tie the game at 7-7, and Syracuse would respond with Howard's second make from beyond the arc in the game.
Sophomore shooting guard Tyus Battle would score his first points of the game on a deep shot and senior guard Shannon Evans II would connect from long range to follow, keeping Syracuse ahead by only one, 13-11.
After some deliberation, Battle's three was instead called a two-pointer, moving the score down to 12-11 Orange.
Battle would extend the Orange back out to a two-possession lead with an old-fashioned three-point play, making the offensive putback off Brissett's miss and the subsequent free throw that brought it to 15-11 Syracuse.
With 6:21 to go in the first half, Brissett came down hard after colliding with redshirt-freshman forward Romello White. He was down on the court for a few minutes and eventually came off on his own, seeming to favor his right leg. The Orange were up 21-16 at the time.
Though he missed both of his free throws that followed, it was good for Syracuse to have him back on the court after a break in the action.
The Orange went 4-for-10 from the charity stripe, while the Sun Devils used the free-throw line to even the game out at 21 when White went 2-for-2 with 4:45 left in the first half.
Arizona State took the lead back inside 3:30 remaining in the opening half off of a jumper by senior guard Kodi Justice that made it 23-22. The span from the last time the Sun Devils had the lead to when they got it back lasted almost 15 minutes, from 18:15 to the 3:22 mark.
Then, true freshman forward Marek Dolezaj would back down his defender to the basket and score off the backboard to restore the lead for Syracuse, at 24-23.
Brissett went 3-for-4 from the line down the stretch and Dolezaj dribbled into the lane and released a quick one-handed shot to provide the Orange with a 30-28 advantage. In between these plays, Evans connected from beyond the arc to tie the game at 28-all, making him 3-for-6 from three-point range in the first half.
Heading into the locker room here at the University of Dayton Arena, Battle led all Syracuse scorers with 10, followed by eight from Brissett and Howard.
Evans led all Arizona State student-athletes in the first half with 11, followed by Mickey Mitchell with eight.
Both Evans and teammate, senior guard Tra Holder, began the second half by giving the Sun Devils back-to-back threes on their first two possessions, going from down 30-28 at the half to ahead 34-30 within the first minute of the second period.
Holder would make it three straight possessions with a score to open the second half for Arizona State when he dribbled to the rack for two, giving the Sun Devils a 36-30 lead with 18:31 left in the contest.
Brissett, just as in the first half, scored the first points of the half for the Orange, this time a three to shrink the Orange deficit to three, 36-33, with under 17:30 remaining.
He got Syracuse within two, 36-34, going 1-for-2 at the line after Justice missed both of his freebies. But Justice made up for it, feeding White for the dunk that rose Arizona State to a 38-34 advantage.
Dolezaj cut off the passing lane, stealing the ball, and taking off downcourt with just under 14 minutes to play, and was fouled. He went 1-for-2 to get Syracuse within one, 38-37, but Holder would come up big once again with a three to extend out to a 41-37 lead for Arizona State.
Justice and Brissett traded threes to bring the game to 44-42 Sun Devils.
From there, Arizona State would get two from a defensive breakdown at the rim by Syracuse, with junior foward De'Quon Lake finishing in the paint followed by Justice taking a three from a couple steps behind the arc, getting Arizona State out to a 49-42 advantage with exactly seven minutes to play.
Howard connected in the lane, Brissett went 1-for-2 at the line, junior center Paschal Chukwu had a clean-up dunk off of a Battle try that was short of the rim, and Dolezaj faked and fed Brissett who scored an old-fashioned three-point play to give Syracuse their first lead of the second half after Arizona State took it away at the 19:46 mark. This string of scores added up to an 8-0 run by the Orange to give them a 50-49 lead.
But, Justice would make his third three-pointer of the second half to break the streak for Syracuse and give the advantage back to Arizona State, 52-50.
Brissett bumped his defender, got separation, and hit his jumper to tie it up at 52 with just three minutes to go in the game.
Battle would knock down a three shortly after to give the lead back to the Orange, at 55-52. At this time, Syracuse was on a 13-3 run.
Justice scored in the lane to get the Sun Devils to a one-point deficit, 55-54.
Chukwu would then step to the line, after missing the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity, and make both free throws with 39.3 seconds to play, giving the Orange a 57-54 lead.
Mitchell would get in the lane for Arizona State and get the ball up before hitting the deck, making this a one-point game once again, 57-56 Syracuse with 15.6 seconds to play.
Chukwu would head back to the line for another 1-and-1 opportunity, going 1-for-2 to make it a 58-56 Orange lead.
Evans eyed the three, moved himself over a step, and launched. It rolled off the rim and Howard got possession with 00.4 seconds on the game clock.
Howard would go 2-for-2 and the Orange would get out of Dayton, Ohio, with the win, 60-56.
Brissett led all scorers on both teams with 23, on 7-for-15 shooting. Battle followed with 15 and Howard with 12.
Justice led four Sun Devils in double-figures with 15, followed by Evans with 14, Holder with 11, and Mitchell with 10.
Syracuse advances to the Round of 64, meaning that they will meet the 6th-seeded TCU Horned Frogs in Detroit, Michigan, and Jim Boeheim will get another head-to-head opportunity with former Pittsburgh Panthers' head coach Jamie Dixon.