How Syracuse Won: It was total domination by the Orange, which used red-hot shooting and its trademark 2-3 zone defense to post a surprisingly one-sided 87-65 victory over Gonzaga in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Syracuse, the top seed in the West Regional, was supposed to be tested by the eighth-seeded Bulldogs. But the Orange wasn’t challenged after building a 15-point halftime lead.
Turning Point: When center Rick Jackson went to the bench with his third foul with 8:58 left in the first half, Syracuse scored 9-0 straight points to ignite a 25-9 run that blew the game open.
Player of the game: Junior forward Wesley Johnson was easily the best player on the floor (what else is new). He scored 10 of SU’s first 12 points and finished with a career-high 31 while grabbing 14 rebounds. Can you say NBA lottery pick?
Unsung hero: Freshman point guard Brandon Triche continued to shoot well, finishing with 13 points, and his defense atop SU’s 2-3 zone helped hold Gonzaga to 3 of 21 from three-point range.
Stat of the Game: Syracuse shot 56.5 percent from the field and made 12 of 24 three-point attempts. Senior guard Andy Rautins had five treys, four in the second half, as part of a 24-point afternoon.
Stat Stunner: Senior guard Matt Bouldin, Gonzaga’s leading scorer and the West Coast Conference player of the year, was held scoreless in the first half. He finished with eight points, but missed all six of his three-point attempts.
In the House: Just call HSBC Arena the junior Carrier Dome as the Orange-clad faithful made up more than half the spectators.
Next Up: The Orange move onto to Salt Lake City, Utah, for the West Regional semifinals, where it will meet No. 5 seed Butler on Thursday night.