College men's basketball: Boeheim scores 30 points to spark SU over San Diego St. in NCAA opener

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Mar. 20—Buddy Boeheim and a stifling 2-3 zone pushed the Syracuse University men's basketball team to a lopsided upset victory late Friday night and into the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Boeheim scored 30 points and 11th-seeded Syracuse rode a dominant defense to beat sixth-seeded and No. 16/18 ranked San Diego State, 78-62, in a Midwest Region first-round game in Hinkle Fieldhouse at Indianapolis.

Syracuse (17-9 overall) advanced to face No. 3 West Virginia (19-9) on Sunday at a time to be determined.

Boeheim finished 11-for-15 overall and made a career-best 7-of-10 attempts on 3-point field goals for his second straight outing of 30-plus points.

"Buddy just had one of those games like he's been having lately," SU coach Jim Boeheim said. "I've never had one of those, so I don't know how it feels but obviously it looks like the basket is wide, and he made some great shots early when we needed it."

The Orange finished 15-for-27 (55.6 percent) from deep for the team's most 3-pointers in an NCAA Tournament game, finishing one shy of the overall program record set in a Dec. 12 win over Boston College earlier this season.

Syracuse held San Diego State (23-5) to 35.8 percent from the field and 27.5 percent on 3-pointers, forcing the Aztecs to attempt 40 of their 67 shots from behind the arc.

"The defense was great, we knew where to be and the coaches did a great job telling us where they were going, what plays they ran," Buddy Boeheim said. "We were just really good and it's not easy when you face this zone, in particular, for the first time."

The Orange raced out to a 32-18 halftime edge behind strong defense.

The Aztecs were held scoreless for the final 9:37 of the first half and shot just 22 percent overall (7-for-31) and 3-for-20 from behind the 3-point arc before halftime, failing to penetrate SU's 2-3 zone early for their lowest-scoring half of the season.

Boeheim scored 16 straight for SU among its first 19 points, and Girard III scored the final 10 points of the half to help Syracuse close on an 18-0 run to take a commanding advantage into the break.

The SU backcourt duo combined to go 6-for-10 from deep in the first half, contributing three apiece, and both converted on a four-point play.

San Diego State had its 14-game winning streak snapped, which was the second longest in the nation behind only the unbeaten top seed, Gonzaga. The Aztecs won the Mountain West Conference regular-season and tournament championships and entered with a 53-6 record since the start of the 2019-20 season.

Syracuse 45th-year head coach Jim Boeheim became the first to guide a team in the tournament across six different decades and SU has lost just six opening-round games in 35 trips to the tourney during his tenure.