Sweet Orange! No. 11 Syracuse upsets 3-seed WVU

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 21: Buddy Boeheim #35 of the Syracuse Orange drives with the ball against Emmitt Matthews Jr. #11 of the West Virginia Mountaineers in the second half of their second round game of the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 21, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 21: Buddy Boeheim #35 of the Syracuse Orange drives with the ball against Emmitt Matthews Jr. #11 of the West Virginia Mountaineers in the second half of their second round game of the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 21, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

For most of his career, Buddy Boeheim has simply been the sharpshooting son of the Syracuse head coach. 

As of Sunday, he's a certified NCAA tournament star. 

Syracuse's vaunted 2-3 zone did the dirty work early against No. 3 seed West Virginia. But when the Mountaineers' shooters woke up in the second half, Boeheim responded with a 3-point shooting clinic to lead the 11th-seeded Orange to a 75-72 victory and into the Sweet 16.

Boeheim, the son of Hall of Fame head coach Jim Boeheim, led the way with 25 points while connecting on 6 of 13 3-point attempts. The effort followed up a 30-point performance in Friday's opening-round upset of No. 6 seed San Diego State. 

The Orange needed everything it got from Boeheim to fend off a pair of 9-0 second-half runs from West Virginia in a win that wasn't secured until the final buzzer. 

Syracuse took a 35-29 lead into halftime as its vaunted zone stymied West Virginia into a 32.1% first-half effort from the floor. But West Virginia's offense would not be denied in the second half.

Sean McNeil (23 points, 7 of 13 from 3-point distance) led the surge as West Virginia rode a 9-0 run to cut a second-half deficit to 46-44. Syracuse responded — or, rather, Boeheim did. The Syracuse junior hit back-to-back 3-pointers to halt the run, including a bomb from the March Madness logo to extend the lead back to 52-44.

But the Mountaineers didn't back down. McNeil powered another 9-0 run that gave West Virginia its first lead of the game at 53-52.

Again, Boeheim stopped the bleeding, this time from the paint with a layup to retake the lead at 54-53. Syracuse would again take control of the game from there, building a 70-59 edge with 2:23 left in regulation. But West Virginia chipped away to cut Syracuse's lead to 72-68 with 21 seconds remaining. 

At that point, it became a game of getting the ball in bounds and hitting free throws for Syracuse. While West Virginia kept the pressure on, Boeheim connected on 3 of 4 free throw attempts in those final seconds, points that added up to the final margin of the game. 

The win extends an unexpected run for a Syracuse team that finished eighth in the ACC this season. But as the first round eliminated Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Clemson, Syracuse carries on the tournament's second weekend, where it awaits the Houston-Rutgers winner. 

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