Texas hasn't been to the national semifinal since 1947. But the Longhorn fans are packing the Superdome. Syracuse hasn't been here since 1987 -- the year Keith Smart's jumper beat the Orange in the final seconds of the title game.
Syracuse leads 10-8, 15:59 left, first half
Syracuse came out in its familiar 2-3 zone, forcing two early turnovers to take a 4-0 lead. Three Hakeem Warrick jumpers and two Brandon Mouton 3-pointers result in an early 6-6 tie. The Longhorns look to get the ball inside, but settle for early jumpers in its halfcourt offense. Mouton is delivering, scoring all eight of Texas' points. Carmelo Anthony's first field goal gives the Orange an early lead.
Syracuse leads 25-20, 10:57 left, first half
Syracuse opens up a 16-8 lead on a Gerry McNamara 3-pointer -- marking the largest tournament deficit the Longhorns have faced this year. He hits another 3 to give Syracuse a 21-12 lead, as the Orange hit 10 of its first 15 shots (66 percent). But Mouton is keeping Texas in the game with a scorching 15 points in the first nine minutes. The Longhorns are 6 of 14 shooting as a team (42 percent). Warrick, however, picks up his second foul and is forced to sit.
Dick Vitale: "It's not about the Orangmen's 2-3 zone. Syracuse is getting the shots they want and Anthony hasn't really done much yet."
Syracuse leads 36-29, 7:27 left, first half
Anthony's deep 3-pointer out of the TV time out gives Syracuse a 28-20 lead. He's now got seven points. Mouton comes back with another 3 for his 18th point of the first half. Right down the court comes Anthony (13 points) with a triple for a 31-24 Syracuse lead. Brad Buckman converts a conventional three-point play. Texas has yet to show much defense, as Billy Edelin joins the scoring spree with a driving layup. The Orange is shooting 73 percent (13 for 18) and leads 33-27. Another layup by Buckman brings Texas to within four, but it's now Anthony's turn to drive through Texas' defense for a layup and foul on Ford -- his second foul. Ford is taken out of the game with 7:24 to play with 5 points and 4 assists. The Orange is shooting a sizzling 69 percent, while Texas is 9 for 20 (44 percent).
Dick Vitale: "Anthony has really picked it up, and I don't think Buckman is going to be able to stop him. Syracuse is deeper -- with Pace, Edelin and McNeil off the bench -- than people think. I'm impressed with Syracuse's offensive efficiency."
Syracuse leads 44-38, 3:15 left, first half
A turn-around hook by Thomas brings Texas within 36-31 out of the time out. But McNamara continues Syracuse's torid pace with another jumper (he has 10 points). Mouton misses a 3-pointer, leading to a Syracuse fast break that ends with Anthony on the line after being fouled on a spinning drive to the basket. Anthony (5 of 7 FGs) hits both free throws for a 40-31 lead. Another Buckman basket inside -- his eighth points of the night -- keep Texas within seven points. Back in the game, Warrick is fouled driving to the basket and hits one of two free throws to extend Syracuse's lead to 41-33. Sydmill Harris nails a 3-pointer -- Texas' first bench points and brings it within 41-36. The teams trade baskets to make it 44-38. Syracuse is still shooting 66 percent.
Dick Vitale: "Texas can't seem to get a key stop. Buckman has helped keep Texas in the game.When Ford went out with two fouls, Texas was down seven -- they've stayed pretty much in the same place without him."
Syracuse leads 44-42, 2:08 left, first half
Ford is back in the game with two fouls, but it's Buckman (12 points) and Mouton (20 points) who each convert baskets out of the time out to get Texas as close as it's been since 8-6 via a 11-4 run.
Syracuse leads 48-45, halftime
The Orange maintain its advantage, but Anthony picks up his second and third fouls trying to grab offensive rebounds in the span of 90 seconds, and must sit with 16 points and four rebounds. Royal Ivey's first two points on a short jumper bring the Longhorns within three points at the half. Still, the story of the first half is Anthony's three fouls and Texas' inability to stop the Orange. Syracuse shot 58 percent in the half (17 for 29) and nailed 5 of 8 of its 3-pointers. Texas wasn't much worse, hitting half of its 32 field goal attempts. Mouton leads all scorers with 20 points, while Warrick and McNamara each have 10 for the Cuse. Ford has five points and six assits, while the rebounding batte has been a push -- 18 each.
Dick Vitale: "Anthony's third foul certainly hurts Syracuse. Still he has not fouled out of a game all season, showing how he plays much wiser than his freshman status. Mouton and Buckman certainly have been keys for Texas, keeping the Longhorns in the game. But Texas must do a better job in the second half on the defensive end."
Texas leads 53-52, 15:55
Playing with two fouls, Ford opens the second-half scoring with a jumper and then turns a steal on the other end into the Longhorns' first lead, 49-48, after he's fouled on a fast break and makes two free throws. Anthony gets Syracuse back on top with his 20th point of the game coming on a driving layup. Another Ford jumper (11 points) and Buckman basket in the paint puts Texas up 53-52.
Texas leads 61-59, 12:09 left, second half
An Anthony 3-pointer is countered by James Thomas' basket inside. But Anthony tips in Warrick's miss to score his ninth straight point for the Orange. He's got 27. Foul trouble then crops into the Texas equation, as Ford picks up his third foul grabbing Edelin. Mouton then picks up foul No. 3 -- putting the Cuse in the bonus with just over 13 minutes to play. Mouton hits another 3-pointer -- his first basket of the second half -- to put Texas up 61-59.
Texas leads 66-61, 10:28 left, second half
Syracuse is cooling off a bit, hitting only 40 percent of its second-half shots through the first nine minutes. But four FTs -- two each by Warrick and Pace -- and then a 3-pointer by McNamara push the Orange lead to 66-61. The game has seen four ties and six lead changes.
Syracuse leads 74-65, 7:50 left, second half
A physical first 30 minutes is getting even more physical in the final 10. Free throws may wind up settling things, and Texas isn't helping itself. The Longhorns are 11 of 17 from the line, while Syracuse has converted 15 of 19. Jeremy McNeil picks up his fourth foul, while Hakeem Warrick's posterizing dunk comes with a third foul. Thomas misses three of four FTs, as both teams are in the bonus. McNamara nails another three, as Syracuse opens up a 70-63 lead with nine minutes to play. The Orange then convert a fast break layup to stretch the lead back to nine -- matching its biggest of the game. Mouton hits a jumper at the eight-minute mark. Buckman then picks up his fourth foul second later on Warrick.
Dick Vitale: "Syracuse is really playing a great offensive game. McNamara has shown his feistiness and come through in the second half. The trio of Anthony, McNamara and Warrick have made the difference so far."
Dick Vitale: "Anthony has looked like a man against boys in the second half."
Syracuse leads 80-75, 3:35 left, second half
Anthony is making not only a mark on tonight's game, but the Final Four record books. His up-and-under slam puts him at 31 points and the Orange up 12 with just over six minutes to play. Al Wood of North Carolina holds the record with 39 points in a semifinal game back in 1981. Buckman fouls out with 5:13 to play, Craig Forth's free throw follows and the Orange is back up 79-68 with five minutes to play. But then the Longhorns rally. Texas gets within 79-72 on two Boddicker free throws. Forth hits one of two free throws as the clock goes under four minutes. Boddicker hits a 3-pointer, and its a five-point game after Syracuse led by 12. Syracuse take a time out.
Syracuse leads 85-81, 1:06 left, second half
Pace and Warrick provide big baskets as Texas continues to miss big FTs. The Orange lead 84-76 with 2:19 to play. The Longhorns are 19 of 31 from the line, 13 of 22 in the second half. Mouton misses a 3-pointer and Deginald Erskin misses the point-blank put-back, forcing the Longhorns to foul. Edelin hits two FTs and its 85-78 with 1:15 to play. Boddicker hits a 3-pointer to keep Texas' faint title game hopes alive.
Syracuse leads 89-84, 46 seconds left, second half
McNamara, a 90.5 percent foul shooter, is fouled and hits two FTs. Harris misses a 3-pointer and as the Orange rebound the miss, get the ball to McNamara, the crowd starts to sense a Roy Williams-Jim Boeheim final -- where one man will win his first national title after so many near misses. McNamara nails two more and its 89-81 with 52 seconds to play. Boddick won't let Texas go away, hitting another 3 to get the Horns within five.
A break-away layup by Anthony and dunks by Warrick and Pace put this one away, 95-84, as Syracuse returns to the national title game for the first time since 1996.