Syracuse back in the Sweet 16 after topping West Virginia behind Buddy Boeheim’s big second half

Big Tournament

Syracuse’s Buddy Boeheim (35) ad Marek Dolezaj (21) celebrate following a second-round game against West Virginia in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 21, 2021, in Indianapolis. Syracuse defeated Syracuse 75-72. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Buddy Boeheim carried his father, Jim, to the Hall of Fame coach’s 20th Sweet 16 appearance, scoring 22 of his 25 points after halftime to lead 11th-seeded Syracuse past third-seeded West Virginia 75-72 in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.

Jim Boeheim’s Orange got the better of another legend, Bob Huggins, in the second March Madness meeting between coaches with at least 900 Division I victories. Huggins won No. 900 when West Virginia beat Morehead State in the first round on Friday. Boeheim got his 982nd at Huggins’ expense.

Syracuse (18-9) advanced to face second-seeded Houston or 10th-seeded Rutgers in a Midwest Regional semifinal.

Buddy “Buckets” Boeheim erupted in the second half, when he made all but one of his six 3-pointers. He finished 6 of 13 from deep and 8 of 17 overall, and he helped put the game away with three late free throws.

While deep tournament runs are nothing new for his dad, it’s the first for Buddy, who was a freshman role player when the Orange lost in the opening round two years ago. Now he’s the Orange’s leading scorer and one of college basketball’s most dangerous shooters. He made two straight 3s just after the break, and his jumper and 3 on consecutive possessions put Syracuse ahead 63-59 with 4:55 left.

Sean McNeil scored 23 points to lead the Mountaineers (19-10), who last made the Sweet 16 in 2018. That was the fifth time West Virginia got that far under Huggins, who also made the regional semis four times with Cincinnati.

WVU trailed 74-72 with 4 seconds left before Boeheim was fouled at midcourt on an inbounds pass. He made one free throw and missed the second, but Miles McBride traveled after grabbing the rebound.

Joe Girard III scored all 12 of his points before halftime, steadying the Orange while Boeheim struggled. Quincy Guerrier and Marek Dolezaj also scored 12 each for Syracuse.

BIG PICTURE

Syracuse: Once again, getting into the tournament as a bubble team did Syracuse no harm. The Orange have advanced to the Sweet 16 each time they’ve been given a double-digit seeding, reaching the Final Four as a 10 in 2016 and the Sweet 16 as an 11 in 2018. That more recent run ended when Boeheim’s bunch lost to Duke and Mike Krzyzewski, the only previous tourney game between 900-win coaches.

West Virginia: West Virginia: Like many Syracuse opponents, the Mountaineers struggled against the 2-3 zone with poor shooting (37.1%) and turnovers (14). They regrouped, but couldn’t get over the hump.

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