After holding the top offense in the country to 50 points in the Sweet 16, Syracuse stifled Marquette, 55-39, on Saturday. The Golden Eagles couldn't crack 40 points in an ugly loss that makes Syracuse the first team in the Final Four.
James Southerland led the Orange with 16 points, but the story here wasn't Syracuse's ability to score. It was another insane defensive effort that got them the win, and allowed them to advance out of the East Region.
Marquette's offense just couldn't solve Syracuse's zone. The Orange forced turnovers at will — 12 overall — and made the Golden Eagles, a poor shooting team, settle for threes. They ended up going just 3-for-25 from beyond the arc, or 12 percent. They had some success early in the game with Davante Gardner sneaking into the high post, but he couldn't follow up on a 7-for-7, 26-point performance in the first matchup between these two. He was alright — 11 points on 7 shots — but the rest of the team was dreadful. Marquette guards Vander Blue, Junior Cadougan, and Todd Mayo combined to shoot 4-for-28, while Jamil Wilson, who led the team with 14 points against Miami, was 1-for-9 from the field.
Syracuse didn't perform much better — they gave up a host of offensive rebounds and shot 38 percent from the field — but they got up early and held Marquette at arm's length the rest of the way. They'd go up 18-7 as Marquette struggled to do anything in the game's opening minutes, but a methodical attack would cut the lead to three before Syracuse entered the break up 24-18.
It wouldn't get much closer. The game was put out of reach by a 7-0 run highlighted by a James Southerland and-1, a rare transition bucket. That pushed the lead to 12, and from there it would climb, with another 6-0 run making the difference 15 points. The Orange would lead by as many as 16.
The Orange will play the winner of the South region final between Michigan and Florida in the Final Four.