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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Syracuse smothers Big East rival Marquette to reach fifth Final Four

The Dagger

One of the key questions so far in the NCAA tournament has been whether any team can outscore No. 1 overall seed Louisville. It's time to consider if anyone will solve the Syracuse zone.

The Orange frustrated fellow Big East member Marquette, a team that is accustomed to Jim Boeheim's famous defense, throughout their Elite Eight battle today. The Golden Eagles never looked comfortable on the offensive end and it was reflected on the scoreboard throughout Syracuse's 55-39 victory.

In a season in which Boeheim won his 900th game, the Orange are returning to the Final Four as East Region champions. They were a No. 4 seed and didn't get any breaks along the way, beating No. 1 seed Indiana and No. 3 seed Marquette to earn their first trip to the national semifinals since winning it all in 2003 with Carmelo Anthony and Co.

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Just two weeks ago, Syracuse hardly looked like a team ready to make a run at the national title. Louisville made the Orange look bad in the Big East tournament title game.

But none of Syracuse's NCAA tournament opponents has been able to duplicate those results against the zone, and the Orange were simply dominant Saturday, earning the right to cut down the nets in front of President Barack Obama.

Syracuse is allowing fewer than 46 points per game to this point in the tournament.

It became obvious early that it might not be Marquette's day. The Golden Eagles made one of their first 10 shots. They made just 12 of 53 field goal attempts, including only three of 25 from behind the 3-point line.

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James Southerland led the Orange with 16 points. C.J. Fair scored 13 and Michael Carter-Williams added 12 with 11 rebounds and five assists.

Vander Blue and Devante Gardner each scored 14 as the Golden Eagles advanced one step further in the tournament than they did in each of the past two seasons.

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