Still Dancing in Detroit: Syracuse locks down TCU, moves on to meet Michigan State
Syracuse is still dancing in Detroit.
In a game that didn't feel like an impossible feat, the Orange met the TCU Horned Frogs, a team that finished with 21 wins during the regular season and .500 in the rugged Big 12 Conference.
However, none of that mattered.
The Orange proved they belonged in the NCAA Tournament, especially after Friday night's result.
Syracuse used its lock down 2-3 zone to lock up the Horned Frogs, en route to the 57-52 final score.
Marek Dolezaj's 17 points led the way for the Orange, while Oshae Brissett (13 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks) and Paschal Chukwu (8 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks) chipped in to help the Orange get over the hump.
TCU stormed back to take the 28-27 lead at the halftime break, but in a low-scoring game, the Orange felt good about their chances.
The Horned Frogs averaged roughly 83 points per game this season, and similar to Arizona State (Syracuse's previous opponent who averaged 84 points per), the Orange were determined to shut them down.
It's a major reason for why Jim Boeheim has had the success he's had throughout his historic, 42-year run as Syracuse head coach.
The 2-3 zone is different, and the way Syracuse plays it, leads to problems for opposing teams that rarely see it.
Not to mention, Syracuse's length is a monumental concern for opposing teams as well.
With that said, the Horned Frogs were in the game throughout, playing to a one possession game during the entire second half.
But when the Orange needed a bucket, it turned to Brissett in crunch time.
The freshman forward scored on three consecutive offensive trips down the floor late in the game, carving up the TCU defense in the paint.
Frank Howard and Tyus Battle, normally Syracuse's top two scorers, combined for only 14 points on the night.
But, again, the Orange's defense was good enough to surpass the Horned Frogs on Friday night.
"It was our defense," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said during his post game press conference. "Our defense was tremendous. They're one of the better shooting teams in the country from the three-point line. These guys just played. They didn't get any easy shots the whole game. I thought that was the difference. We did a good job on the boards and didn't turn the ball over.
"It was a really good win," he concluded.
With the victory, Syracuse advances to meet 3-seed Michigan State on Sunday at 2:45 p.m. from Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan.
The game will be televised on CBS5.