Extra MustardSI On CampusFantasyPhoto GalleriesSwimsuitVideoFanNationSI KidsTNT
Updated: Saturday, March 29, 2003 1:53 AM EST
Recap | Box Score | Today's Scoreboard
(3) Syracuse 79, (10) Auburn 78
Auburn Tigers
Related Links:
Syracuse Orangemen
Related Links:

ALBANY, New York (Ticker) -- Carmelo Anthony is getting the hang of bouncing back from a rough first half.

Anthony bounced back from his second straight scoreless first half for 18 points and third-seeded Syracuse withstood a barrage of 3-pointers down the stretch for a 79-78 victory over No. 10 Auburn in the East Region semifinals.

Anthony scored all 13 of his points in the second half for Syracuse in its second-round victory on Sunday against Oklahoma State. The freshman came through with another strong final 20 minutes as the Orangemen advanced to meet top seed Oklahoma on Sunday.

"The first half I hadn't scored and we were winning so I don't feel as though I have to score for our team to be successful," Anthony said.

Syracuse (27-5) led by as many as 16 points in the first half despite Anthony's lack of production. Marquis Daniels and Auburn started to solve the Orangemen's 2-3 zone and staged a huge rally.

A 3-pointer by Derrick Bird pulled Auburn (22-12) within 61-58 with 6:52 remaining. Anthony responded with a driving layup and a 3-pointer and, after two free throws by Bird, dunked for a 68-60 advantage with 4:31 to go.

"I know he's gonna keep competing and he relies too much on his jump shot, but a couple times he attacked the whole team and still scored, he's that good," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said.

The Tigers nailed four 3-pointers in the final 80 seconds to stay close. Nathan Watson drained one with seven seconds left to cut the deficit to 77-75.

Anthony found a wide-open Josh Pace for a dunk two seconds later. That was enough to offset a 3-pointer by Watson with less than a second remaining.

Kueth Duany went 4-of-4 from the line in the final 27 seconds to help make the difference.

"Every player wants to be in that situation to ice the game," Duany said. "I just went up there and knocked them down."

"They hit foul shots down the stretch," Auburn coach Cliff Ellis said. "We made a heck of a run in the second half, played with all our heart and soul."

Hakim Warrick fouled out with 15 points and Pace provided a huge spark off the bench with 14 for Syracuse, which never trailed. The Orangemen are in a regional final for the first time since losing in the championship game to Kentucky in 1996.

Pace made 7-of-13 shots in 22 minutes, the first time he has played more than 20 minutes in consecutive games. He had six points and eight rebounds in the Oklahoma State game.

"He was huge tonight," Boeheim said. "He was tremendous and he made plays defensively. He's been a key for us in this NCAA Tournament. He's getting opportunities against defenses that are good for him."

Duany scored eight of his 12 points in a game-opening 10-2 run as Syracuse got off to a quick start. Freshman Gerry McNamara's 3-pointer 8 1/2 minutes into the game opened up a 19-7 advantage. Auburn had just three baskets in the first eight minutes.

The Tigers found their stride with six straight points to get within 19-13 before Syracuse answered with 10 straight points and seized its largest lead on a basket by Warrick with 5:29 left before halftime.

The Orangemen limited the Tigers to 30 percent (9-of-30) shooting in the first half for a 37-27 edge.

"I thought some of our younger guys were timid a little early, but they weren't timid in the second half," Ellis said.

But Auburn used a "triangle-and-two" defense in the second half to slow down Syracuse. Watson drained four 3-pointers and converted a layup that cut the deficit to 41-37 with 15:51 left to play.

"I think we aren't used to being ahead and got out of sync with the 'triangle-and-two' defense," Boeheim said. "Josh was key during that time and Hakim made some big baskets."

Pace hit a jumper and Anthony nailed a 3-pointer to restore a nine-point lead for Syracuse. But Daniels' hot shooting kept the game close for the Tigers.

Daniels made 12-of-21 shots and scored 27 points in his final game for Auburn. Watson chipped in 16 points, his highest total since December 22.

"It's going to be tough knowing this was my last game in an Auburn uniform," Daniels said. "You always feel you can do more after a loss."

Lewis Monroe scored 12 points and Bird added 11 for the Tigers, who have not reached a regional final since 1986.

© 2005 STATS, Inc