Shooting woes doom Michigan State in 55-53 loss to Syracuse

Posted at 7:02 PM, Mar 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-18 22:27:22-04

(AP) -- Tyus Battle had 17 points and Oshae Brissett scored 15, lifting 11th-seeded Syracuse to a 55-53 win over third-seeded Michigan State on Sunday and into the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16.

Cassius Winston missed an opportunity to win the game for the Spartans with a shot from about 45 feet just before the buzzer. The Spartans, flummoxed by Syracuse's 2-3 zone, didn't make a basket in the last 5:41.

The Orange (23-13) forced the Spartans (30-5) to settle for 3-pointers all afternoon and it worked brilliantly for Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim against Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo.

The Spartans took a school record 37 shots beyond the arc, making just eight of them.

"No one plays zone like we do," Brissett said. "We're always moving, and we challenge every shot, so teams never get easy looks against us."

Syracuse has won three straight since being sent to Dayton for the First Four as what the selection committee chairman acknowledged was the final team to receive an at-large bid.

Miles Bridges missed a 3 with a chance to tie with 11 seconds left and teammate Joshua Langford missed a putback, but Syracuse turned the ball over with 7.9 seconds left.

The Orange fouled intentionally to avoid giving up a game-tying 3 twice in the closing seconds and the Spartans made two pairs of free throws to pull within a point both times.

"We're always going to foul in those situations and it's always worked for us," Boeheim said. "I've seen too many guys when the guy makes a 3 and it goes into overtime."

Paschal Chukwu connected on one free throw with 2.4 seconds left and the miss gave Michigan State a chance to win in dramatic fashion, but Winston couldn't make a long shot to be hailed in his hometown.

Syracuse took the lead with 4:22 left for the first time since it was ahead 14-12. The Orange held onto slim leads because they forced the Spartans to miss their last 13 shots.

Bridges' college career likely is ending with a performance he would like to forget.

"It's probably the saddest I've ever been in my life," Bridges said.

The sophomore star, who turned down a chance to go pro last year, was held scoreless for much of the first half and finished with 11 points on 4 of 18 shooting, making just 3 of 12 shots.

"Bridges is a great player, but we wanted to make him shoot from the outside," Boeheim said.

Winston scored 15 points and Nick Ward added 10 for the Spartans, who shot just 26 percent.


Syracuse can be a problem for any team because that zone is often unfamiliar and the team suddenly has confidence, though still not much offense.

Michigan State may have a rough offseason because it will likely lose Bridges and freshman Jaren Jackson to the NBA draft and the school's crisis on campus isn't going away anytime soon.


Syracuse will face Duke (28-7) on Friday in the Midwest Region semifinals in Omaha, Nebraska.