Detroit – Forget the matchup between the Syracuse defense and TCU’s offense. That was no contest.
The question was whether the Orange could score enough to take that smothering zone to another round.
“We just wanted to stay poised down the stretch,” guard Frank Howard said. “We didn’t want to get frustrated or start to force anything.”
Howard’s jumper with 1:27 remaining gave 11th-seeded Syracuse a five-point lead, and the Orange held on for a 57-52 victory over sixth-seeded TCU on Friday night in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament. Marek Dolezaj scored 17 points before fouling out, and Syracuse imposed its will defensively.
The Orange (22-13) won for the second time in the tournament and advanced to face third-seeded Michigan State on Sunday.
TCU (21-12) is still without an NCAA Tournament victory since 1987, when coach Jamie Dixon was a player. This was the school’s first appearance since 1998, and it was short-lived.
“We kind of made history this year getting in the tournament for the first time in 20 years,” guard Kenrich Williams said. “I mean, I learned a lot on and off the court, learned a lot from my teammates, from the coaches.”
There was little doubt who won the much-anticipated matchup between TCU’s excellent offense and Syracuse’s zone. The Horned Frogs were held 31 points below their season average.
“They didn’t get any easy shots the whole game, and I thought that was the difference,” Orange coach Jim Boeheim said. “We did a good job on the boards and didn’t turn the ball over. It was a really good win.”
Syracuse led 50-49 before mid-range shots by Tyus Battle and Howard pushed the lead to five. That margin was plenty in this game.
The Orange shot 39.6 percent from the field. TCU finished at 36.8.
“We’re probably not going to shoot 50 percent against them,” Dixon said. “What they do, you’ve got to get second shots, you’ve got to get putbacks.”
TCU had only 11 second-chance points. Williams led the Horned Frogs with 14 points.
TCU did score eight straight points to finish the first half with a 28-27 lead.
More Midwest Region
Clemson 79, New Mexico State 68: At San Diego, Shelton Mitchell scored a season-high 23 points, Gabe DeVoe had 22 and Clemson beat New Mexico State to out a perfect first round for No. 5 seeds.
The 5-12 line is usually one of the top spots for March Madness upsets, but Clemson (24-9) shot 56 percent from the field while advancing out of the first round for the first time since 1997. It was the Tigers’ first win in the NCAA tourney since the First Four in 2011.
Clemson was nearly flawless at the offensive end against the 12th-seeded champions of the WAC. It made 9 of 11 shots during one stretch on its way to a 12-point lead at halftime.
Zach Lofton led New Mexico State (28-6) with 29 points.
Auburn 62, College of Charleston 58: At San Diego, Jared Harper made a clutch 3-pointer with 1:17 to go – his only basket of the game – and Auburn held off No. 13 College of Charleston.
The Tigers (26-7) avoided being the second No. 4 seed to be upset at Viejas Arena. Marshall beat fourth-seeded Wichita State earlier in the day.
Auburn, playing under the cloud of a federal investigation, survived a poor shooting performance to win in its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2003.
Jarrell Brantley scored 24 for the Cougars (26-8), the CAA champs who made their first NCAA Tournament since 1999.
Marshall 81, Wichita State 75: At San Diego, Jon Elmore scored 27 points and 13th-seeded Marshall toppled fourth-seeded Wichita State for its first NCAA Tournament victory.
The Thundering Herd (25-10) had been 0-5 in the tourney, with its last appearance in 1987.
Marshall became the second No. 13 seed to win this week. Buffalo did it Thursday night, beating Arizona.
Conner Frankamp scored 27 points for Wichita State (25-8).
West Virginia 85, Murray State 68: At San Diego, Jevon Carter scored 21 points, had eight assists and six steals as No. 5 seed West Virginia overwhelmed 12th-seeded Murray State.
The Mountaineers (25-10) advanced to the round of 32 for the third time in the past four seasons. Next up for West Virginia is a Mountain State showdown with 13th-seeded Marshall far away from home.
Terrell Miller scored 27 points for Murray State (26-6).
Cincinnati 68, Georgia State 53: At Nashville, Tenn., Jarron Cumberland set career highs of 27 points and 11 rebounds as Cincinnati recovered after blowing a 10-point lead in the second half.
The second-seeded Bearcats (31-4) advanced to play seventh-seeded Nevada.
After trailing 42-32 early in the second half, 15th-seeded Georgia State (24-11) rallied to take a pair of one-point leads, its last one coming on a driving bank shot from D’Marcus Simonds with 9:30 left.
Kansas State 69, Creighton 59: Charlotte, N.C., Barry Brown scored 18 points and ninth-seeded Kansas State never trailed despite playing without top scorer Dean Wade.
Mike McGuirl added 17 points for the Wildcats (23-11). Wade had been expected to play after suffering a stress fracture in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament, but never got on the floor.
Marcus Foster, thrown off the Kansas State team after the 2015 season for multiple violations of team rules, finished with five points on 2-of-11 shooting for Creighton (21-12).
Florida State 67, Missouri 54: At Nashville, Tenn., ninth-seeded Florida State has lots of guys who can score, and the Seminoles used that depth to win their fourth straight NCAA Tournament opener.
Mfiondu Kabengele scored 14 points, and Florida State beat No. 8 seed Missouri.
PJ Savoy had 12 points and Phil Cofer scored 11. A total of 10 Seminoles scored at least two points apiece – by halftime – as they wore out Missouri, which had only eight healthy players available.
This was the first trip to the tournament for every player on the roster for Missouri (20-13). Even with new players and a new coach in Cuonzo Martin, the Tigers head home from their first NCAA trip since 2013 with the program’s fourth straight loss in a first round.
Xavier 102, Texas Southern 83: At Nashville, Tenn., Xavier looked every bit like a No. 1 seed its first time around in the role at an NCAA Tournament.
J.P. Macura scored 18 of his career-high 29 points in the first half, and Xavier routed No. 16 seed Texas Southern in its tournament opener.
Trevon Bluiett added 26 points and Kerem Kanter had 24 for the Musketeers (29-5).
Texas Southern (16-20) came in having won the first NCAA Tournament game in program history, a First Four win over North Carolina Central in Dayton on Wednesday night.
Texas A&M 73, Providence 69: Admon Gilder scored 18 points to help Texas A&M hold off Providence.
Robert Williams and Tyler Davis both had double-doubles for the seventh-seeded Aggies (21-12). The teams were tied at 50 with about 9 minutes left but Texas A&M responded with a 12-2.
Rodney Bullock scored 22 points for the 10th-seeded Friars (21-14).