Burgan picks good time to find stroke Syracuse soph hits 4 of 5 in second-half charge

March 31, 1996|By Paul McMullen and Ken Murray | Paul McMullen and Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ALSO CONTRIBUTED TO THIS ARTICLE. — EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Todd Burgan, a sophomore swingman from Detroit, found the range when Syracuse needed it most.

Burgan had made just 31.9 percent (23 of 72) of his shots in the eight previous games, but he was six of 11 in yesterday's 77-69 victory over Mississippi State, including four of five in the second half. Burgan also had struggled at the line, making five of 19 in Syracuse's three previous games, but he made all four of his second-half free throws.

"All week the coaches have been telling me that free throws are a mental state," Burgan said. "During practice, I tried to slow down and focus on making it, blocking everything else out, just me and the basket."

Burgan had more room to operate in the second half, when Mississippi State paid more attention to Orange center Otis Hill, who had 15 points before intermission.

Shutting down Jones

When Jim Boeheim went to the NCAA championship game in 1987, he was done in by a junior-college transfer, as Keith Smart's jump shot at the end gave Indiana a 74-73 win over Syracuse.

The Orangemen are back in the final in part because of the job their 2-3 zone did on Dontae' Jones, the junior forward for Mississippi State who was a two-time All-American at Northeast Mississippi Community College. Jones had 16 points against the Orangemen last night, but he was 6-of-16 from the field.

Battle at the top

The semifinal pitting No. 1 Kentucky against No. 2 Massachusetts was the first 1 vs. 2 NCAA tournament matchup in 10 years, almost to the day. On March 29, 1986, No. 1 Duke rejected No. 2 Kansas, 71-67, in the national semifinals in Dallas. Duke lost the national championship game to Louisville that year.

Say, you look familiar

Kentucky coach Rick Pitino faces one of his first bosses when Kentucky plays Syracuse.

Pitino's second job as college assistant was at Syracuse from 1976-78. That was the first two seasons that Boeheim was the Orangemen's coach.

Pitino is 1-6 against Boeheim. That win came in their last meeting, when Kentucky beat Syracuse, 77-71, in February 1995.

The two have met in the Final Four before: In 1987, Boeheim's Orangemen beat Pitino-coached Providence, 77-63, in a semifinal game.

No. 4 seed rises up

Syracuse is the first No. 4 seed ever to reach the championship game, and the first team from the Big East Conference to get there since 1989, when Seton Hall lost to Michigan.

The Orangemen got to tomorrow's title game with 21 rebounds, the lowest in the Final Four since the 1985 final.

Syracuse had only four offensive rebounds.

Not hogging the headlines

Don't tell John Wallace that Syracuse owes its success to him.

"This is not a one-man team," the All-American forward said yesterday. "I might take more of the shots, but we pick each other up. When one of us was struggling, everyone else did a great job."

Pub Date: 3/31/96

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