Playing about 40 miles south of his hometown, Fair scored eight of his 13 points in the second half as the Orange beat cold-shooting Marquette, 55-39, on Saturday in the East Region title game at the Verizon Center. Syracuse (30-9), with its suffocating 2-3 zone defense, earned its first trip to the Final Four since 2003, when Baltimore product Carmelo Anthony led the Orange to the national title. Now Fair, interviewed on national radio right after the game as Orange fans hollered at him, will try and become another title-winner for Baltimore, which recently celebrated an NFL title by the Ravens. Fair hit two three throws with 9:33 left to give Syracuse a 41-28 lead and then came up with a blocked shot against Vander Blue of Marquette with 6:39 left. Seconds later, Syracuse got a rebound and James Southerland, who scored 16 points, put down a thunderous dunk to give the Orange a 45-32 advantage. Then Fair dunked after a missed shot to give Syracuse a 47-32 lead with 4:41 to go. Southerland hit a 3-pointer to make it 50-36 at 2:20 and the orange-clad fans at the home of the Georgetown Hoyas started to celebrate as if they were in upstate New York. Marquette (26-9) was led by Blue and reserve Davante Gardner, who had 14 points. Triche made a layup on a goaltending call to make it 28-21 with 14:24 left in the game. Fair hit a basket to give the Orange a 30-23 lead, but Blue hit two free throws to make it 30-25 with 12:36 left. Fair responded by heading back to the baseline and hit a one-hander from about six feet to give Syracuse a 32-25 edge with 12:10 remaining. A driving layup and free throw by Southerland made it 35-25 and Michael Carter-Williams (12 points) scored on the next possession to give the Orange a 37-25 lead, its biggest of the game at the time. It will be the first Final Four appearance for Syracuse (30-9) since 2003, when the Orange won the national title behind freshman Anthony and guard Gerry McNamara, now an assistant coach. No. 4 seed Syracuse took a 12-5 lead with 12:02 left in the first half when Fair grabbed an offensive rebound and scored. Triche hit a 3-pointer to give Syracuse a 15-6 and a free throw by local product Jerami Grant, a reserve freshman, gave the Orange a 19-7 advantage with 6:32 left in the first half. But a dunk by Chris Otule, on an entry pass from Davante Gardner, pulled Marquette to within 21-14 with 4:56 left. And a driving basket by Junior Cadougan of Marquette made it 21-16 with 4:16 left, even though Cadougan was shaken up on he play and remaining on the court for several minutes before being taken to the lockerroom. Cadougan returned to the bench for the end of the first half. Southerland hit a long 3-pointer near the Marquette bench with about a minute left to give Syracuse a 24-18 lead at the break. Southerland had eight points in the first half, while reserve Gardner led all scorers with nine. The Golden Eagles scored the first basket of the game on a 3-pointer by Blue but spent the early part of the first half somewhat confused on how to penetrate Syracuse's vaunted 2-3 zone. Marquette missed 13 of its first 15 shots, had eight turnovers in the first half and made only one of its nine 3-point shots. Marquette beat Syracuse, 74-71, at home on Feb. 25 when Gardner, of Suffolk, Va., scored 26 points. He made all seven shots from the field and was 12-of-13 from the line. The East Region final matched two teams from the Big East. "I think the Big East is one of the toughest leagues," Triche said. "Obviously, one of the reasons why I chose the Big East because you're going to play against strong competition. It's going to be a battle each and every game." Marquette beat Syracuse, 66-62, in the third round of the 2011 NCAA tournament. NOTES: Among those in the stands Saturday was President Barack Obama, who picked Indiana to win the NCAA title. Syracuse eliminated the Hoosiers here on Thursday night. ... Both teams played at the Verizon Center during regular-season play against host Georgetown, a fellow member of the Big East Conference. Syracuse lost, 61-39, on March 9, while Marquette lost, 63-55, on Feb. 11 against the Hoyas. ... The last time Syracuse advanced to the Final Four was in 2003, when the Orange won the title with freshman Carmelo Anthony and Gerry McNamara, now an Orange assistant. Syracuse entered this season with four Final Four appearances. ... The last trip for Marquette to the Final Four was in 2003. ... Syracuse junior forward C.J. Fair is from Baltimore and Jerami Grant played at nearby DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, Md., and is the son of former Washington NBA player Harvey Grant.
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