By Jason Schott – Brooklyn Fans reporter – Twitter @JESchott19
Of the Big East teams in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, Syracuse, Louisville, and Cincinnati are moving on to the Sweet 16, while Georgetown and South Florida are going home.
To start with, in the East region, the #1 Syracuse Orange used a strong second half to knock off #8 Kansas State, 75-59, on Saturday afternoon.
The first half of this one was a highly entertaining affair marked by streaks. Kansas State opened on a 9-2 run in the first five minutes. Syracuse responded with a 21-3 run over the next eight minutes. Kansas State was up to the task and came close to tying the game, and Syracuse entered the half with a 25-24 lead.
In the second half, Syracuse maintained a six-point lead, then blew the game open with five minutes remaining, when Dion Waiters’ three-point play made it 63-47.
This was an impressive win for Syracuse, and they are starting to make people believe they can be a threat in this tournament without Fab Melo.
Dion Waiters led Syracuse with 18 points on 5-for-9 shooting and went 7-for-7 from the foul line. James Southerland had another strong game, shooting 5-for-6 and making two 3-pointers. Scoop Jardine had 16 points on 5-for-9 shooting and three 3-pointers.
Southerland, Kris Joseph and Rakeem Christmas have filled the void left by Melo. Joseph had 11 points, seven of which were free throws. Christmas had an impressive 11 rebounds to complement his eight points.
Their next game will be against #4 Wisconsin.
In the West regional, the #4 Lousiville Cardinals are making the case that they can be this year’s Connecticut and ride the wave of momentum from winning the Big East Tournament all the way to a national championship.
Louisville beat the #5 New Mexico Lobos, 59-56, on Saturday night, another close win that they have come to specialize in.
They won despite Peyton Siva being held to six points because of foul trouble.
The star of this one was backup guard Russ Smith, who had 17 points, shooting 5-for-12 and draining three 3-pointers.
Gorgui Dieng had his most impressive game of the postseason, notching 10 rebounds and six points. Dieng had a big dunk with 32 seconds left to give the Cardinals a 57-53 lead.
Louisville will face a tough test in the Sweet 16, meeting the #1 seed in the West regional, Michigan State and coach Tom Izzo.
Otto Porter had a strong game for Georgetown, getting nine points and eight rebounds. Jason Clark led the Hoyas with 10 points, but shot a disappointing 3-for-11 from the field.
NC State had four players in double figures, with Scott Wood, C.J.Williams, and C.J. Lewis scoring 14 points each, and Lorenzo Brown scoring 12 points.
In the midwest regional, in a battle of teams that scored upsets in the second round, the #12 South Florida Bulls were beaten by the #13 Ohio Bobcats, 62-56.
As usual, South Florida turned this into a slow-down defensive battle, and they maintained a slim lead well into the second half.
USF led 42-37 with 9:23 left when Jawanza Poland took a technical foul. That sent Ohio’s Nick Kellogg to the line for two free throws, which he made.
Ohio also got possession, and Kellogg came up big with a three-pointer to tie the game at 42, making it a five-point possession off of Poland’s technical foul.
Kellogg hit another big three-pointer with 5:48 left to give Ohio a 50-46 lead.
They did fall behind Ohio by eight, and pulled to within three at 59-56 on a Toarlyn Fitzpatrick three-pointer, but it was too little, too late.
Ohio’s D.J. Cooper made three free throws after that to open up a 62-56 lead, and that was the final score. Cooper finished with 19 points on 5-for-12 shooting with two 3-pointers and seven free throws.
Ohio guard Walter Offutt had 21 points on 7-for-9 shooting, and shot a perfect 4-for-4 from behind the arc.
For USF, Anthony Collins and Victor Rudd, Jr. had 13 points each, and Augustus Gilchrist had 12.
Ohio moves on to a Sweet 16 matchup with the top seed in the Midwest regional, the North Carolina Tar Heels.
To close out Sunday night, in the East regional, the #6 Cincinnati Bearcats outlasted the #3 Florida Seminoles 62-56.
Sean Kilpatrick hit a three-pointer, his second straight at that point, to put the Bearcats ahead 49-46.
Florida State battled back to take a 50-49 lead, on two free throws from Luke Loucks.
For Cincinnati over the final 1:40, Dion Dixon had a key dunk and they got to the free throw line repeatedly.
Cincinnati big man Yancy Gates made three, guard Sean Kilpatrick made four, and JaQuon Parker made two.
The Bearcats were led by Sean Kilpatrick with 18 points on 5-for-9 shooting and four 3-pointers. Dion Dixon chipped in 15 points, while Yancy Gates had 10.
Cincinnati moves on to play in-state rival #2 Ohio State in Boston in the Sweet 16.