The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team fell the Houston Cougars in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 by a final score of 62-46. The Orange struggled mightily against Houston’s defense, shooting 14-50 overall and 5-23 from 3-point land.
Jim Boeheim made no changes to his starting lineup, going with Joe Girard, Buddy Boeheim, Alan Griffin, Quincy Guerrier and Marek Dolezaj. Despite suffering a hip-pointer in the opening round of the tournament, senior guard DeJon Jerreau started for Houston.
Both teams struggled out of the gate offensively. Alan Griffin forced a shot on the first possession for Syracuse and drew air. Boeheim replaced him immediately with Robert Braswell. The younger Boeheim scored first for Syracuse, but Houston led 5-2 at the first media timeout with defense setting the tone for both squads.
Quentin Grimes picked up two early fouls for Houston and was forced to sit. Guerrier connected on a three for Syracuse, but Marek Dolezaj picked up his second foul trying to draw a charge and was replaced by Jesse Edwards. Houston picked apart the 2-3 zone for a stretch and led 15-5 at the second media timeout.
Syracuse began to settle in midway through the second half. The zone tightened up as Edwards anchored the middle disrupted two passes. Houston turned the ball over on two straight occasions and Syracuse was able to make 15-3 run. On the other end, the Orange attacked inside on the play of Kadary Richmond. The freshman dished to Guerrier for a dunk. Alan Griffin scored on a pair of free throws. Richmond and Joe Girard both scored in the lane and cut Houston’s lead to 17-13 with 7:54 to play in the first.
Both teams traded defensive stops as the half went on. Boeheim was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all three to tie the game at 20.
As part of a 10-0 run to end the half, Grimes re-entered the game for Houston and he nailed a triple to give Houston a 23-20 lead. The Cougars scored 10 unanswered and took a 30-20 lead into the break.
Against Houston’s pressure, Syracuse shot just 1-10 from beyond the arc. The Orange were out-rebounded 18-13
Out the break, both teams began to settle into their offense. Syracuse got to the free throw line on two occasions, but split at the line 2-4. Houston dunked inside and answered with a floater by Jerreau. Girard buried a deep 3-point bomb but an outside shot by Grimes lifted Houston to a 12 point lead.
On his cleanest look of the night, Boeheim buried a three from the left wing that got Syracuse back to within single digits. Syracuse made a run at Houston as a Richmond three cut the lead to four, but that’s as close as the Orange would get the rest of the way.
Justin Gorham made a jumper to give Houston a 43-36 lead with 12:21 to go and the Cougars wouldn’t look back. Grimes added another three and pushed Houston’s lead to nine. Syracuse failed to respond on offensive end and fell behind double-digits.
Syracuse went to the press at the under eight minute mark but Houston had little trouble breaking the pressure. The Orange never threatened down the stretch and Houston advanced, winning 62-46.
Boehiem scored 12 points on 3-13 shooting while grabbing six rebounds. Girard scored 12 points as well on 4-10 shooting. Edwards scored five points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked two shots.
Houston won the battle of the boards 33-23. Syracuse had 11 turnovers to Houston’s six.