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Live from the Arena: Syracuse vs. Vermont

Welcome to HSBC Arena, site of the first-round NCAA Tournament matchup between No. 1 seed Syracuse and the 16th-seeded Vermont Catamounts. The game tipped just before 10 p.m., after Gonzaga eased past Florida State in the first night game.

I've covered a lot of NCAA first-round games in my day, and never have I seed a No. 1 seed receive such a rousing partisan ovation from the crowd. It truly is a sea of orange here in Buffalo. The poor Vermont squad has a small contingent of yellow and green clad fans back to my right, but this is Syracuse country.

Generally, a crowd will get behind the 16 seed in a "neutral site" game. But this is no neutral site. The Buffalo crowd is making it very clear that this is Syracuse country when it comes to the tourney. Syracuse is off to a quick 7-3 lead, as the vaunted 2-3 zone has caused the expected woes for Vermont.

--- Jerry Sullivan

End of Game: sorry, had a lot of wireless problems here today.  The NCAA has sent around a letter of apology for the constant day-long problems with the system. They're offering free access to the media the next two days. Nice to know they can find the funds in the $6 billion they get from CBS.

Syracuse wins, 79-56, and moves on to play Gonzaga on Sunday. The Orange came out on fire in the second half, getting two three-pointers from Andy Rautins and another from Brandon Triche to blow it open after Vermont pulled to within 12 at halftime. We'll have a full game analysis later.

--- Jerry Sullivan

First Half

Halftime: Things got even more interesting in the final moments of the half, as Vermont took advantae of some sloppy Syracuse play to go on a 9-0 run and get to the halftime down by only 12, 37-25. Marqus Blakely, the Catamounts' star forward, had a couple more dunks during the run. Blakely began the game shooting 0-for-5, so maybe he'll continue to be a big factor after halftime.

3:56 left: Things have gotten a little interesting in the last minute or so. Wes Johnson missed a dunk on a lob from Andy Rautins. Then Vermont got an emphatic slam from its start, Marqus Blakely, at the other end, prompting Jim Boeheim to call a quick timeout. The Orange quickly scored at the other end and now lead, 37-16.

--- Jerry Sullivan

9:28 left: Syracuse is leaving nothing to chance. The Orange are on a 23-5 run and Vermont is pretty much limited to one shot on the offensive end. Syracuse's size is simply overwhelming the smaller Catamounts.

---Rodney McKissic 

11:58 left:  Maybe the absence of center Arinze Onuaku helped Syracuse achieve focus in the early game. Whatever the reason, they came out with purpose and fire in the first eight minutes. The Orange lead, 15-8, and have been sensational on the defensive end in their signature 2-3 defense. Vermont made only one of its first 10 shots to start the game and 'Cuse pretty much controlled the defensive boards.

--- Jerry Sullivan

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