Syracuse trumps Texas to advance to title game
Carmelo Anthony poured in a career-high 33 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as Syracuse advanced to the NCAA Championship game with a 95-84 win over Texas in the national semifinals at the Louisiana Superdome.
The Orangemen will be in search of their first-ever national championship when they take on Kansas in Monday night's final. The Jayhawks defeated Marquette, 94-61, in the first semifinal and will be looking to capture their third title in school history.
Gerry McNamara scored 19 points and Hakim Warrick added 18 for Syracuse (29-5), which is in the Final Four for the fourth time in school history and is in the title game for the first time since 1996 when it lost to Kentucky.
Texas (26-7), which was the lone top-seed to reach New Orleans, made its first appearance in the Final Four since 1947 and has never reached the title game in its three semifinal tries.
Brandon Mouton scored 25 points, Brad Buckman netted 14 and James Thomas posted 13 points and eight rebounds in the loss.
T.J. Ford posted 12 points and a game-high 13 assists, while Brian Boddicker also chipped in 12 points.
Ford scored the first four points of the second half and gave Texas its first lead of the game at 49-48. Syracuse later regained the lead at 55-53 on Anthony's three-pointer with 14:24 remaining in the game. The game stayed close and Mouton's three with 12:08 left made it 61-59 Longhorns.
McNamara's three-pointer with 10:42 left capped a 7-0 run and gave the Orangemen a 66-61 lead and Josh Pace's breakaway layup with 8:33 remaining extended Syracuse's margin to 72-63. Anthony's long jumper with just over seven minutes left gave the Orangemen a double-digit advantage at 76-66.
The lead grew as high as 12 points, but Texas trimmed the deficit to seven points at 79-72 with 4:23 remaining. Boddicker's three just under one minute later brought the Longhorns within 80-75, but Syracuse then scored four of the next five points to widen the gap to 84-76 with 2:29 left.
Texas closed within six points and had a chance to get within four, but Deginald Erskin missed a layup and after Billy Edelin was fouled and hit 1- of-2, the Orangemen lead was seven. Boddicker came down and again answered with a three to bring the Longhorns within 85-81 with 1:06 remaining.
McNamara then gave Syracuse an eight-point advantage as he knocked down four consecutive free throws, but Boddicker's three with 48.8 seconds left got Texas within five at 89-84. Anthony's layup with 40 seconds left, followed by Edelin's breakaway dunk, put the Orangemen ahead by nine and sealed the win for Syracuse. Syracuse led 16-8 on McNamara's three-pointer from the right wing with 14:53 left in the first half and increased the margin to nine on another McNamara three moments later.
Mouton kept Texas close as he scored 15 of the team's first 17 points. The Longhorns later trimmed the lead to three points at 23-20 on Ford's three-pointer with 11:16 left in the opening frame.
The Orangemen then scored the next five points, capped by Anthony's three- pointer, to take a 28-20 advantage. Buckman's three-point play with 8:45 left in the first half brought Texas within four at 31-27, but McNamara later extended the cushion to seven points on a long jumper.
The lead grew to nine points at 40-31 on Anthony's basket, but Texas scored 11 of the next 15 points, capped by Mouton's finger roll layup, to climb within a basket at 44-42 with 2:12 left in the half.
The game remained tight and after Royal Ivey hit a floater for the Longhorns with seven seconds left in the half, Syracuse went into the locker room with a 48-45 lead.
Syracuse, which shot 17-of-30 from the field in the first half, was led by Anthony's 16 points. McNamara and Warrick each added 10 points for the Orangemen. Mouton led all scorers with 20 points and Buckman chipped in 12 for Texas, which was 16-of-32 from the floor in the opening 24 minutes.