DENVER (AP) -- Gerry McNamara added to his reputation as a clutch
shooter -- especially in the NCAA tournament.
McNamara hit nine 3-pointers and had 43 points, helping the
defending national champions hold off pesky Brigham Young 80-75
Thursday in the first round.
He made six 3-pointers in last year's championship game against
Kansas and was even better in this one, finishing 9-for-13 for the
third-highest total in NCAA tournament history.
"Gerry had as good a performance as I've ever seen in college
basketball," said coach Jim Boeheim, who tied Denny Crum for 18th
all-time with his 675th win.
"Gerry was just in another world today. I don't think you'll
see the likes of that kind of game too many times ever."
Syracuse (22-7) shot 53 percent and got 20 points from Hakim
Warrick but couldn't breathe easy against 12th-seeded BYU until
McNamara hit three free throws in four attempts in the final 16
The Orangemen, the fifth seed in the Phoenix Regional, advanced
to face Maryland in the second round Saturday in a matchup of the
last two national champions.
They can thank McNamara, who made his first six 3-pointers and
added three more in six attempts in the second.
"Right from the beginning, from that first shot I took, it felt
good," said McNamara, who is 15-for-23 from 3-point range in his
last two NCAA tournament games. "So when you have it, you have to
roll with it. You have to keep throwing it up there."
BYU (21-9) got off to a strong start from the perimeter and had
plenty of help inside from Rafael Araujo -- 24 points and 12
rebounds -- but still couldn't get past the first round for the
fourth straight time. The Cougars haven't won an NCAA tournament
game since beating Southern Methodist in the first round in 1993.
"In the two or three times that I have been here, this was the
best effort that I've received from a group of young men," BYU
coach Steve Cleveland said. "They were ready to play, and it just
didn't go our way tonight."
Syracuse just scraped by Manhattan in the first round en route
to last year's national title and was in a fight from the start in
BYU's good perimeter shooting early forced Syracuse to abandon
its vaunted 2-3 zone late in the first half and Araujo had his way
against man coverage. But the Cougars couldn't come up with the big
shot when they needed it.
BYU had four chances to tie it in the final two minutes, but
Araujo followed two offensive rebounds with an ill-advised
3-pointer with just over a minute left, and Mark Bigelow missed a
wide-open 3-pointer with 20 seconds left.
"To let it slip away and then get down and come back and have a
shot to win the game and come up short makes it really tough,"
The teams set a torrid scoring pace from the start, combining to
hit 11 of 12 shots in the opening five minutes.
Warrick got Syracuse started with a tomahawk dunk on a spin
move, and the Orangemen didn't miss until Demetris Nichols' runner
in the lane caromed off the backboard at 15:09 on their sixth shot.
Syracuse collapsed in on Araujo early, opening up the perimeter
for BYU's shooters. The Cougars took advantage, hitting 5-of-6 from
3-point range -- three by Mike Hall -- in the first 3:37.
When BYU finally did get it to Araujo, the bruising Brazilian
muscled his way through a double team for a three-point play that
put the Cougars up 18-15.
"He is definitely one of the top big men we've played this
year," Warrick said. "He's got a great touch outside and good
footwork and he's really strong."
McNamara and BYU's Luiz Lemes took over from there.
McNamara hit a 3-pointer that tied it at 18-all, then Lemes
dropped one in from the wing. McNamara hit another from the same
spot, followed by consecutive 3s by Lemes that put BYU up 29-21.
McNamara had an answer -- of course -- dropping in a 25-footer
with a hand in his face.
And he wasn't through.
Warrick had to sit the final 7:01 after picking up his third
foul, but McNamara added two more 3-pointers to help Syracuse tie
it at 42-all by halftime after trailing by as many as 11.
McNamara also hit five free throws after being fouled on 3-point
attempts to finish the half with 28 points -- four short of his
"Really, if he didn't shoot that well, we'd probably be up 20
at the first half," Bigelow said.