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Updated: Friday, March 28, 2003 8:35 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL PREVIEW
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No. 10 Auburn (22-11) vs No. 3 Syracuse (26-5)
AUBURN TIGERS
Auburn Tigers
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SYRACUSE ORANGEMEN
Syracuse Orangemen
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ALBANY, New York (Ticker) -- Third-seeded Syracuse should have a friendly reception awaiting it in the Pepsi Arena on Friday when it faces No. 10 Auburn in the semifinals of the East Region.

The placement of Syracuse (26-5) in the East Region raised plenty of eyebrows since the regionals are in Albany, a two-hour drive from campus. It gives the Orangemen a huge geographical advantage, one that is usually reserved for teams seeded first or second.

To get to Albany, the Orangemen first had to get past the first two rounds in Boston. They completed the task by rallying from a 17-point deficit for a 68-56 victory over Oklahoma State on Sunday.

Billy Edelin scored 20 points and fellow freshman Carmelo Anthony added all 13 in the second half despite a poor shooting night as Syracuse used fullcourt pressure to chip away at its huge deficit. The Orangemen used tremendous defense to force 22 turnovers and limit the Cowboys to 35 percent shooting.

Anthony, the national Freshman of the Year, is averaging 22.2 points and 9.9 rebounds and owns 19 double-doubles. He is one of four Syracuse players to average in double figures, joining Hakim Warrick, Gerry McNamara and Kueth Duany.

The regional is Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim's first time in the Pepsi Arena since he attended a Bruce Springsteen concert on December 13.

Auburn (22-11) lost nine out of 14 games heading into the NCAA Tournament before posting unlikely victories over Saint Joseph's and Wake Forest. Marquis Daniels averaged 21.5 points in the two wins.

This is the third "Sweet 16" of coach Cliff Ellis' career and Ellis has never been farther. He lost to Connecticut with Clemson in 1991 and lost to Ohio State with the Tigers in 1999.

The Tigers, who have never been to the Final Four, have advanced to a regional final just once when a Chuck Person-led team did so in 1986 before losing to Louisville.

Syracuse and Auburn have never met. The winner will face Oklahoma or Butler in Sunday's regional final.


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