Sunday, April 6, 2003

Syracuse 95, Texas 84

Syracuse uses balanced offense to beat Texas

Gannett News Service

Syracuse's Carmelo Anthony gets a clinching layup in the closing seconds of the Orangemen's 95-84 win over Texas. Anthony finished with 33 points and 14 rebounds.
(AP photo)
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NEW ORLEANS - They have the same dream. The coach who has been at Syracuse for decades, and the teenage superstar who has been there for one season.

A national championship. Just one. And now it is but a game away, for Jim Boeheim, the patient coach. And Carmelo Anthony, the unstoppable and unguardable freshman.

The Orangemen went rolling into the national title game Saturday night, blowing past Texas 95-84 behind Anthony's 33 points, and all the misery they caused.

The Longhorns' No. 1 seed, their all-world guard T.J. Ford and his 13 assists, the 25 points from Brandon Mouton ... none of that was enough to deal with Anthony, who is likely racing toward the NBA, but not before he tries to cut down some NCAA nets.

"It don't get better than this," said Anthony, who added 14 rebounds.

And so on Monday night, Boeheim, with 652 victories in a glowing career, will go after the climactic win he has chased for so long, against a man who has done the same.

Waiting for him is Kansas' Roy Williams.

"One of us is going to be able to smile, finally," Boeheim said. "But nobody's going to believe this. That's fine but it's about what it's going to mean for these players. They want to win and I want them to win for themselves because I know how tough it is sitting in that locker room when you lose. I'm a grown man. I've lost a lot of games."

It will be Boeheim's third championship game, including 1987 in this very Superdome, when Indiana's Keith Smart beat him in the last seconds.

"I think this team is special," guard Kueth Duany said. "It would be nice to see coach get a championship. You know, he's been at Syracuse almost forever."

If the time has come, it will likely be because of a freshman.

If the Texas defenders tried to single team Anthony, he scored over them, or drew whistles, as the Longhorns steadily sank into foul trouble.

If they double and triple teamed him, he sent the ball to someone else. To fellow freshman Gerry McNamara for his 19 points or Hakim Warrick for his 18, setting up enough good shots for Syracuse to hit 57 percent. A mere kid in charge of the show.

"I don't think I need to say anything about him anymore," Boeheim said. "I think he's shown what he's all about."

"Every point they scored," said Texas coach Rick Barnes, "can almost be attributed to Carmelo when he's in the game. He makes you help, he makes you rotate."

Saturday was a nervous next step for Boehiem's young team with one senior to its name.

"I couldn't be more proud of any team I've ever coached," Boeheim said.

From a 61-61 tie, Syracuse rolled to a 78-66 lead with just under six minutes left, and nearly every factor in its favor.

Anthony had just soared in from the baseline for a slam. Half the Texas roster was in deep foul trouble trying to stop him.

Indeed, Brad Buckman would soon foul out after going 6-for-6 from the floor for 14 points.

Ford, in fact, had joked with Anthony during a timeout.

"He told me I was a freshman," Anthony said, "I wasn't supposed to be getting all the calls I was getting."

But the Orangemen's offense stalled, and Texas closed to 80-75 with 3:40 left and 85-81 at 1:06.

Syracuse had enough free throws and late dunks to put it away.

The Orangemen get headlines for their zone defense. They won Saturday with offense.

"You're not going to stop a Texas or Marquette or Kansas," Boeheim said. "You're going to have to score."

For the first 32 minutes, Anthony's shadow was all over the court.

Syracuse clawed to a 48-45 lead after a rollicking first half ... because of 16 points from Anthony.

With 13:07 still left in the game, Texas had already put Syracuse in the bonus ... trying to guard Anthony.

The other Orangemen did not score a point in first eight minutes of the second half, but Syracuse was down only 61-59 ... with all 11 points those eight minutes from Anthony.

"I've seen every defense there is that a team can throw at one person," Anthony said earlier in the week.

The attention meant opportunities for other Orangemen, as the game began to slip away from Texas.

McNamara had four steals for the night, and his 3-pointer pushed Syracuse ahead 66-61. Josh Pace's breakaway basket made it 72-63. Syracuse went on a 15-4 run, with not a point from Anthony. He knew just when to look for help.

"I feel as though I'm living a dream," Anthony said of getting this far. He's only 18. Imagine how his coach feels.

SYRACUSE (29-5)-Warrick 6-11 6-8 18, Anthony 12-19 6-7 33, Forth 0-0 2-4 2, McNamara 6-12 4-4 19, Duany 1-2 1-2 4, Pace 5-6 2-2 12, Edelin 2-6 1-2 5, McNeil 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 32-56 24-31 95.

TEXAS (26-7)-Thomas 4-7 5-11 13, Buckman 6-6 2-5 14, Mouton 9-23 2-2 25, Ford 3-8 5-6 12, Ivey 1-8 2-2 4, Harris 1-5 0-0 3, Erskin 0-1 0-0 0, Klotz 0-0 1-2 1, Ross 0-0 0-0 0, Boddicker 3-5 3-4 12. Totals 27-63 20-32 84.

Halftime-Syracuse 48-45. 3-Point Goals-Syracuse 7-13 (Anthony 3-4, McNamara 3-8, Duany 1-1), Texas 10-21 (Mouton 5-9, Boddicker 3-4, Ford 1-2, Harris 1-5, Ivey 0-1). Fouled out-Forth, Buckman. Rebounds-Syracuse 37 (Anthony 14), Texas 34 (Thomas 9). Assists-Syracuse 14 (McNamara, Warrick 4), Texas 20 (Ford 13). Total fouls-Syracuse 21, Texas 26. A-54,432

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