Anthony, Syracuse escape Auburn

Towson Catholic grad sends Orangemen to final with 18 in 2nd half, 79-78

East Regional

Ncaa Tournament

March 29, 2003|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

ALBANY, N.Y. - Silent in the first half, Carmelo Anthony scored 18 second-half points to steer Syracuse past Auburn, 79-78, last night in an East Regional semifinal of the NCAA tournament.

Anthony's dazzling array of dunks and three-pointers sends the Orangemen into tomorrow's East final against Oklahoma, a 65-54 winner over Butler in the other semifinal.

The Orangemen (27-5) played in a home-court atmosphere at Pepsi Arena, which is 145 miles from the Syracuse campus. The orange-clad crowd rooted for Butler in the opener, then turned the 15,000-seat arena into a cauldron for Auburn.

Syracuse fed the fans' appetite with a 10-2 spurt to open the game and steadily built a 37-27 first-half lead. Auburn shot a miserly 30 percent in the first half and committed 13 turnovers that resulted in 12 Syracuse points.

But Auburn's gimmick defense, a triangle-and-two on Anthony and Gerry McNamara, was effective in getting the Orangemen out of their game and allowing the Tigers back in it.

"We were out of sync when they went to the triangle-and-two defense," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "We've seen that defense some this year, but not much."

It wasn't until Anthony, a 6-foot-8 freshman from Baltimore and Towson Catholic, went to his inside game in the second half that he got going.

"The first half, we were winning," he said. "I don't feel I have to score for us to be successful. I hit the boards early. Everybody knows I don't have to score for us to win."

Anthony's second-half heroics were imperative because Hakim Warrick was in foul trouble with three personals at halftime. Warrick got his fourth with 8:49 left in the game and Syracuse up by 57-52. He fouled out with 2:19 to go after scoring 15 points.

"We didn't get the ball inside to Hakim enough," Boeheim said. "I thought he should've had a huge game against the triangle. When he went out, it was hard for us to attack their team because our center doesn't do much on offense."

Auburn's Marquis Daniels scored 17 of his game-high 27 points in the second half to fuel the Tigers' comeback. He was most effective in the middle of Syracuse's 2-3 zone, much to Boeheim's chagrin. Although Jeremy McNeil had four blocks and seven rebounds, he couldn't control the 6-6 Daniels inside.

"[McNeil] was really a difference in the first half," Boeheim said. "But his job is to be in the middle of the zone when Daniels catches the ball, and he did not react defensively."

A three-point shot by Derrick Bird, the player responsible for Anthony's first-half difficulties, got the Tigers (22-12) within 61-58 with 6:52 left. Anthony answered with a drive to the basket for a two-point goal and a jumper from the arc for three. A follow dunk a minute later kept Syracuse up by eight at 68-60.

But Auburn's three-point shooting kept whittling the deficit. Nathan Watson scored 16 points for the Tigers, hitting four of seven three-pointers.

"If they would have shot the ball the whole game the way they did the last eight minutes, there would have been a different outcome," Boeheim said.

Poor foul shooting nearly cost the Orangemen. They missed the front end of three straight one-and-one fouls, but Billy Edelin converted three free throws. Then Kueth Duany, Syracuse's only senior, converted four straight free throws to provide the winning margin.

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