Top-seed Syracuse (34-2) withstood 14 Wisconsin 3-pointers on the night to beat the Badgers 64-63, advancing to Saturday’s East regional final.
Wisconsin had two attempts at the game-winning basket in the final seconds, but Jordan Taylor’s three fell short and Josh Gasser’s turnaround just before the horn missed the mark.
“They did a good job of recovering to open guys there,” remarked Taylor. “They used the length that they have and kind of forced us into a tough shot, and it obviously didn’t go down.”
C.J. Fair led three Syracuse starters with 15 points and seven rebounds, and Dion Waiters added 13 off the bench to help Syracuse reach their first Elite 8 since 2003, a season that ended with a national title in New Orleans.
“We knew what he was capable of doing. I don’t think he really played bad in other games, he just wasn’t there offensively,” said Syracuse point guard Scoop Jardine when asked about Fair’s performance.
“He’s that offensive weapon that you don’t have to call a play for, but you look up and he’s got 15 points. That’s something special with a kid like that.”This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
Wisconsin had things rolling early in the game, but two fouls apiece for Berggren and Mike Bruesewitz took the two players most successful in the foul line area off the floor for the rest of the first half.
Syracuse was able to capitalize, using a 15-3 run to push their lead out to 33-23 with 2:30 to go in the half. Wisconsin scored the final four points of the half to cut the lead to six at 33-27.
The Badgers attempted 27 3-pointers on the night, and they made 8 of 9 to start the second half. The Orange were on the ropes but their ability to get to the basket allowed them to survive.
Taylor and Jared Berggren scored 17 points apiece to lead Wisconsin, who finishes the season with a 26-10 record.