Syracuse 81, Kansas 78, Final
Jim Boeheim's quest for a national title has been fulfilled, as Syracuse held off a late Kansas run. The Orangement led 78-70 with three minutes left, but scored just once the rest of the way.
Kansas had a chance to tie, but Michael Lee's 3-pointer was blocked by Hakim Warrick with 1.5 left. Kirk Hinrich's 3-pointer at the buzzer was an airball.
Kansas got to within three (80-77) on a shot by Michael Lee, and Carmelo Anthony missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 58 seconds left.
Aaron Miles missed a possible tying 3-pointer, but Jeff Graves was fouled on a rebound attempt and made one of two free throws to make it 80-78 with 39.9 seconds left.
Syracuse, which had trouble advancing the ball over halfcourt, called timeout with 28 seconds left.
Kansas' Nick Collison fouled Kueth Duany with 24.1 seconds left -- Collison fouled out with 19 points and 21 rebounds. Duany made one of two to make it 81-78.
Kirk Hinrich's 3-pointer with 15 seconds left went in and out; Syracuse's Hakim Warrick got the rebound and was fouled. He missed both shots.
Carmelo Anthony had 20 points and Gerry McNamara had 18 for Syracuse. McNamara didn't score in the second half. Syracuse shot 47 percent from the field and hit 11 3-pointers, tying the NCAA title game record.
Collison and Keith Langford had 19 points for Kansas, which made just 12 of 30 free throws and 4 of 20 3-pointers.
Syracuse 80, Kansas 75, 1:53 left in second half
The teams traded baskets -- Billy Edelin scored for Syracuse to put the Orangemen up by eight, but Nick Collison scored on a dunk and Kansas called time out.
Syracuse 78, Kansas 73, 2:36 left in second half
Kansas, down eight points with 3:02 left, scored three quick points on a Jeff Graves free throw and a dunk by Kirk Hinrich off a length-of-the-court pass from Collison. Syracuse is trying to milk the clock with a deliberate offense.
Syracuse 76, Kansas 67, 3:44 left in second half
Syracuse continues to lead, but Kansas is makiing a small run. Nick Collison made a free throw to cut the Jayhawks' deficit to 11 points -- ending a streak where Kansas missed 10 straight from the line -- and added a lay-up to cut the lead to nine.
Keith Langford fouled out with 5:36 left when Edelin drove to the hoop and appeared to travel. The officials, however, called Langford for a foul and Edelin hit two free throws to give Syracuse a 74-64 lead.
Edelin has been solid in the second half; he has 10 points and is one of four Syracuse players in double figures.
Syracuse 72, Kansas 62, 6:55 left in second half
Despite Kansas' early second-half run, Syracuse has lost just one point off its halftime advantage. The key different in the second half? Free throws. Kansas is just 9-of-24 from the line -- and has missed 13 of their last 15 and eight straight. Kansas shot 63 percent from the line for the season.
The Jayhawks are also shooting just 40 percent from the field.
Syracuse, meanwhile, has cooled off from the field (shooting 49 percent), but Carmelo Anthony has 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to lead the way. Gerry McNamara hasn't scored in the second half after a brilliant first-half performance.
Dick Vitale: Free throw shooting is killing Kansas. Syracuse's defense not is allowing many good looks for Kansas. The Jayhawks worked so hard to cut the deficit that they may have exerted too much energy.
Syracuse 66, Kansas 58, 11:54 left in second half
Kansas couldn't get closer than three points as Syracuse extended its lead in a frantic five-minute stretch. The Jayhawks had a chance down 61-58, but a turnover followed by a 3-pointer by Anthony give Syracuse a 6-point lead with 13 minutes left.
Kansas' Kirk Hinrich injured his left ankle with 12:20 left. He went up to save a ball going out of bounds and was fouled in mid-air. He landed awkwardly and left the game immediately in pain. Hinrich has 11 points, but is just 4-for-14 from the field.
Syracuse 55, Kansas 52, 17:08 left in second half
Kansas, down 13 in the opening seconds of the half, went on a 10-2 run to get to within three points. Hinrich's 3-point play was the capper.
Included was a 3-pointer by Michael Lee, who had entered the game for Keith Langford when he picked up his fourth foul. Langford was leading Kansas with 15 points at the time.
Carmelo Anthony's back is obviously hurting him. It's heavily wrapped.
Dick Vitale: Kansas' defense started forcing turnovers early in the second half, leading to transition baskets. Interesting to note that Kansas was down 11 when Langford picked up his fourth foul; the Jayhawks have picked it up since. Collison has been a major factor inside, as expected.
Syracuse 53, Kansas 42 at halftime
Syracuse controlled the tempo and had everything going its way in the first 20 minutes. How much control? This was the most points by any team in the first half of a title game.
The Orangemen hit 10 3-pointers -- six by freshman Gerry McNamara -- to build their 11-point advantage. McNamara's six treys are one shy of the NCAA tourney record, held first by Steve Alford in the Superdome in the 1987 finals. Tony Delk also had seven treys in a tournament game -- also, ironically, in the final against Syracuse.
McNamara had 18 points to lead all scorers. Anthony added 13 and Kueth Duany had 10 for Syracuse, which led by as many as 18 points.
Kansas, meanwhile, was just 2-of-7 from the 3-point line and shot just 45 percent. Langford had 13 points and Nick Collison 12 for the Jayhawks.
Kansas appeared to get the bad end of a charging call with 2:48 left; Aaron Miles was whistled for a charge, negating a basket that, with a free throw, could have drawn the Jayhawks to within 7. Instead, a 10-point deficit became 13 when McNamara drilled a 3-pointer seconds later.
With 58.8 seconds left, Anthony was called for an intentional foul when he tackled Langford has he went up for a layup. But Langford hit just one free throw and Kansas couldn't convert with the ball out of bounds.
Anthony came down and hit a 3-pointer in the final 15 seconds before Collison's lay-up ended the half.
One ominous stat for Kansas: only two teams (Kentucky in 1998) has overcome a 10-point-or-more halftime deficit to win a title game. Utah led 41-31, but lost 78-69 to Kentucky in '98.
Dick Vitale: McNamara has been the difference in the game. He's been sensational. Kansas can't contain him from the outside.
Syracuse 47, Kansas 33 -- 3:46 left in first half
The onslaught continues. Syracuse already has three players in double figures -- Gerry McNamara with 15, and Carmelo Anthony and Kueth Duany with 10 each. The Orangemen are lighting up the 3-point line, with eight in the first 16 minutes (in 11 tries), led by McNamara's five treys. Syracuse is 18-of-32 from the field, to just 12-of-28 for Kansas, which is struggling to get its transition game going.
Nick Collison and Keith Langford have 10 points each for Kansas.
Dick Vitale: Syracuse is incredible right now. They just won't miss. And think about this: Anthony really hasn't gotten started yet.
Syracuse 39, Kansas 25 -- 6:54 left in first half
Freshman can't play big in title games? McNamara has 12 points and Anthony 10 as Syracuse has built its biggest lead of the game. The Orangemen are hitting 55 percent from the floor, and are 6-of-7 from 3-point range.
Kansas, meanwhile, has slumped to 43 percent from the floor and has yet to score a fast-break point. Collison had eight early points, but has been slowed by Syracuse's 2-3 zone. Hinrich, scoreless early, has six points.
Dick Vitale: This is McNamara's night so far. His 3-point ability is going to give Kansas serious problems.
Syracuse 32, Kansas 17 -- 10:23 left in first half
Kansas needed a timeout to stem what's been a 12-3 Syracuse run. The Jayhawks have yet to make a 3-pointer, while Syracuse is 5-for-6 from behind the arc. Kansas has also committed five turnovers, to just one for Syracuse.
Dick Vitale: Syracuse is doing a great job in transition, getting back on defense themselves and keeping Kansas out of its offense. Everybody is contributing for the Orangemen. McNamara set the tone with those 3-pointers. Hinrich is struggling early for Kansas -- they need to get him going. It's hard not to be very impressed with Syracuse thus far.
Syracuse 28, Kansas 16 -- 11:52 left in first half
Sunday morning, Jim Boeheim sat in the bowels of the Superdome and talk to a small group of reporters. Among his nuggets: freshman McNamara would have a big game. Boeheim's reasoning? McNamara had been "The Man" for his team in high school for four years. "Everybody ran two or three guys at him," Boeheim said. "So in a lot of ways, this is easier than that on him."
McNamara made a prophet of his coach with a pair of 3-pointers to give Syracuse a 23-14 lead with 13 minutes left. It was Kansas' biggest deficit of the tournament -- and grew to 28-16 at the television timeout.
McNamara has nine early points; Anthony has six and Hakim Warrick four.
McNamara, however, appeared to hurt his left hand when he went after a loose ball and crashed into a television monitor on the scorer's table. He left the game minutes later.
Hinrich still hasn't scored for Kansas; Nick Collison has eight. Hinrich -- the best 3-point shooter in Kansas school history -- even took a rushed 3-pointer during a 5-0 Syracuse run.
Syracuse 13, Kansas 8 -- 15:54 left in first half
Syracuse came out sizzling on offense, hitting three of its first four 3-pointers to grab an early 5-point lead. Anthony, McNamara and Kueth Duany all hit treys, and Duany had a monster follow dunk.
Collison, who didn't score for the first seven minutes of the semifinal against Marquette, scored Kansas' first three points and had five at the first timeout. Kansas, however, had three turnovers in the first three minutes.
Kansas elected to put Keith Langford on Anthony. Anthony, who has a 4-inch height advantage, posted Langford up low early -- a trend worth keeping an eye on.
No arena seats more for college basketball than The Superdome, which will have more than 55,000 for tonight's game. That's about 10,000 less than the other Final Fours at the Dome; a new seating configuration gives more fans a better seat, but fewer fans a chance to get in.
Most of those 55,000 had to survive a driving rainstorm to get there. Both teams received police escorts and arrived safely during the deluge.
Jim Boeheim and Roy Williams have met twice in the NCAA Tournament -- splitting the two meetings. Syracuse won 60-57 in the West Regional final in 1993 -- the last time Syracuse reached the Final Four. Kansas returned the favor in the second round of the Midwest Regional in 2001, beating Syracuse 87-58.