9:00 PM ET, November 18, 2004
Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
NEW YORK (AP) -- Syracuse and Mississippi State both struggled in the first half. Hakim Warrick made sure Syracuse had a much better final 20 minutes.Warrick scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half and the Orange (No. 6 ESPN/USA Today; No. 5 AP) beat Mississippi State (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today; No. 12 AP) 71-58 Thursday night in the semifinals of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic."We got him the ball. We made a conscious effort to get him the ball," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said of the difference in Warrick in the two halves. "We showed patience and got much better shots."Syracuse (3-0) will play Memphis (No. 23 ESPN/USA Today; No. 24 AP) on Friday night in the championship game at Madison Square Garden. The Tigers (3-0) beat Saint Mary's 81-66 in the other semifinal.Syracuse and Mississippi State (2-1) were tied 25-25 at halftime. Syracuse had the better shooting half, hitting 29.4 percent to the Bulldogs' 26.5. The Orange were 1-for-8 from 3-point range, Mississippi State was 1-for-9.The matchup of preseason All-Americans was even, too, and not very good. Warrick had four points on 2-for-5 shooting and Lawrence Roberts of the Bulldogs, playing for the first time this season, had two points and missed all five of his shots.Warrick, a 6-foot-8 senior, had six points in Syracuse's 11-0 run to open the second half and the Orange stayed about that far in front the rest of the way."I think once we all got going it was really us," Warrick said. "That's what got me going."Gerry McNamara missed his first six 3-point attempts before hitting two around a dunk by Warrick on his alley-oop pass to give the Orange a 56-43 lead with 9:18 to play.Warrick had 10 rebounds and McNamara finished with nine points and seven assists for the Orange, who went 21-for-31 from the field in the second half (67.7 percent)."I thought we executed about as well as we could in the second half," Boeheim said. "What did we shoot? Sixty-seven percent. Yeah, that's good. We executed better, got good movement and better shot selection."Roberts, the Southeastern Conference player of the year last season, missed the Bulldogs' opener because of an NCAA suspension over payment to an NBA pre-draft workout. He missed the second game recovering from a broken nose in practice last week.Playing with a face mask, Roberts finished with nine points and 12 rebounds. He was 2-for-9 from the field and never looked comfortable in his 28 minutes."We knew he would play we just didn't know how much," Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said of Roberts. "He hasn't practiced and we couldn't expect that much out of him but he still gets us 12 rebounds. It's his presence out there that helps the team. He missed some chippies he normally makes. Unfortunately for us he had to play that much tonight."Shane Power had 18 points for Mississippi State, which shot 31.3 percent for the game (20-for-64)."It was that first 4, 5 minutes of the second half. That was a big spurt," Stansbury said. "In the first half we did a good job on Warrick and McNamara. Then Warrick changed the emotion and energy level of their team and we didn't show a lot of poise."Syracuse is 3-0 all-time against Mississippi State with the last meeting in the NCAA semifinals in 1996.
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