Syracuse beats Virginia to advance to the Final Four

Orange become first-ever 10-seed in Final Four

Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim: "I think we came out at halftime. We wanted to try to keep it within 12 or so, and with about 10 minutes try to go with full-court pressure. The full-court press helped."

Syracuse overcame a 14-point halftime deficit to defeat the No. 1 seeded Virginia Cavaliers, 68-62. The victory puts the Orange into its second Final Four in four years, and they also become the first 10-seed in NCAA Tournament history to make it this far.

Photo: Sam Maller
Tyler Lydon embracing victory, and his teammate Trevor Cooney.

Virginia was 68-0 heading into Sunday night's second half, as they had never lost under head coach Tony Bennett's tenure when leading by 10 or more at halftime. Syracuse used a well-managed 25-4 run which featured a full-court press to stymie the Cavaliers. It was the first time they've beaten Virginia since joining the ACC.

Freshman Malachi Richardson helped bring the Orange back from a 15-point deficit with 9:32 remaining. The score was 54-39, and with clutch three-point shooting and defence, the Virginia lead vanished. Richardson scored 14 points of those points to give Syracuse a 64-58 lead. 

Up by four with 27 seconds remaining, Virginia star point guard hit two free throws to make it a two-point game, but Michael Gbinije was fouled two seconds later and he went 1-2, putting the Orange up 65-62. The Cavaliers missed the potential game-tying three-pointer and freshman Tyler Lydon grabbed the rebound, and he was fouled with nine seconds left. Lydon hit both and within those last few ticks of the clock, DaJaun Coleman got fouled and was able to hit one from the foul line as well, and that is where the scoring stopped.

The Orange pulled off an incredible upset and comeback that no one could've expected, especially after such a poor first half, where they only scored 21 points- the lowest they've scored in a half all season. Lydon managed to knock down a three-pointer while missing a shoe someone in there.

Syracuse's graduate guard Michael Gbinije scored 11 points and Tyler Roberson added 10, while being the toughest man on the boards. Trevor Cooney had eight, and Richardson finished with 23, tying his season-high.

The Orange will have a week to prepare for their next opponent, the No. 1 seeded North Carolina Tar Heels. They beat Notre Dame later Sunday night, 88-74. Tip-off is slated for 8:49 p.m. on Saturday, April 2.

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