Syracuse rallied from a second-half deficit to take down Arizona State, 60-56, in a First Four game in Dayton on Wednesday night.
Arizona State had a chance to win, down by two, with under 10 seconds left as Shannon Evans II took a three-pointer from the corner but the shot missed. The Orange collected the defensive rebound and closed out the game with two Frank Howard free throws.
Syracuse (21-13) found themselves down 49-42 with 7:04 left but they made an 8-0 run to regain the lead. From there, the Orange relied on a great game from Oshae Brissett as the forward led Syracuse with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Brissett’s ability to create was one of the few bright spots for the Orange on offense. Tyus Battle (15 points) knocked down the go-ahead jumper with under two minutes left and Howard (12 points) also finished in double-figures for Syracuse while no other player on the team had more than five points.
The last team to get in the 2018 NCAA tournament, Syracuse gets the satisfaction of knowing that they at least proved critics wrong by winning this game and advancing to the next round. With the Orange’s length and ability to limit good looks, they could be a dangerous No. 11 seed if a player like Brissett or Battle gets hot.
Arizona State (20-12) shot 11-for-32 from three-point range (34 percent) and 3-for-10 from the free-throw line as their potent offense went cold at the wrong time. The Sun Devils averaged over 88 points per game entering the NCAA tournament but Arizona State was held to Syracuse’s slow pace.
The Sun Devils really struggled at times to crack the Orange’s 2-3 zone. Generating minimal offense outside of occasional three-point flurries, Kodi Justice (15 points) Shannon Evans II (14 points) and Tra Holder (11 points) were the only three double-figure scorers for Arizona State.
After a 12-0 start to the season that saw wins over No. 1 seeds like Kansas and Xavier, the Sun Devils barely got in the field and lost in the First Four. Arizona State went from a top-ten team to start 2018 to a team that lost six of their last seven games.
Syracuse advances to face No. 6 seed TCU in the Midwest Regional in Detroit on Friday. That game will tip at 9:40 p.m. EST and should be an intriguing first-round matchup. Although the Horned Frogs had a strong season, they’ve lost two straight games entering the NCAA tournament as they look susceptible to a potential upset.