(3) Syracuse 71

(28-10, 11-7 Big East)

(2) Oklahoma 84

(30-5, 13-3 Big 12)

    7:27 PM ET, March 27, 2009

    FedExForum, Memphis, Tennessee

    1 2 T
    #3SYR 26 4571
    #2OKLA 39 4584

    Top Performers

    Syracuse: J. Flynn 22 Pts, 2 Reb, 6 Ast

    Oklahoma: B. Griffin 30 Pts, 14 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl

    Griffin leads Sooners past Orange, into Elite Eight

    Associated Press

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Blake Griffin saw 6-foot Jonny Flynn plant his feet near the basket, trying to draw a charge near the end of the first half. So Oklahoma's bullish power forward changed his plans.

    Fast Facts

    • Oklahoma moved on to the Elite Eight and denied Jim Boeheim win No. 800.

    • Blake Griffin had 30 points and 14 rebounds, becoming the first player since Mike Maloy of Davidson in 1969 to record 25 points and 10 rebounds in his first three tournament games. Griffin was 12-for-15 from the field.

    • Tony Crocker had 28 points for the Sooners after scoring eight in the first two rounds. The Sooners shot 54.2 percent from the field and had 11 steals.

    • Syracuse missed its first 10 3-pointers and finished 7-for-24 from behind the arc. The Orange also had 18 turnovers.

    -- ESPN research

    • Instant analysis

    Oh, he still drove through Flynn, flattening the point guard. The change came as Griffin switched from another thundering dunk to a simple layup -- and when a blocking foul was called, he got the added bonus of a free throw.

    "I was hoping it went in our favor," Griffin said.

    Griffin scored 30 points and had 14 rebounds in his usual dangerous game for Oklahoma. This time, he got some help as Tony Crocker added a career-high 28 points, and the second-seeded Sooners beat Syracuse 84-71 Friday night and advanced to their first regional final since 2003.

    Oklahoma (30-5) started pulling away midway through the first half and moved on to play top-seeded North Carolina, a 98-77 winner over Gonzaga, in the South Regional final Sunday. The Sooners are looking for their first Final Four since 2002. The last time the Sooners made it this far, Syracuse beat them en route to their own national championship.

    Schlabach: Griffin shines

    Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel knew he'd get another All-America performance from Blake Griffin in the South Regional against No. 3 Syracuse. Blog
    And all that talk of an All-Big East Final Four?

    That's over with now. Syracuse was the league's lone representative left in the South Region. The Orange (28-10) finally ran out of the magic that helped them pull off such wins as their six-overtime marathon over Connecticut in the Big East tournament.

    "Oklahoma's a very, very good basketball team," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "And when Griffin's been healthy, they've been very difficult to beat."

    Griffin once again put on a show despite being double-teamed. He dunked so hard in the second half that he came away from one shaking his left hand and banged his noggin against the bottom of the backboard while driving along the baseline for a rim-rocking dunk.

    "That's the first time in a game," Griffin said of scraping against the backboard, a remark that drew a laugh from Crocker. "It took me by surprise. I got too close."

    Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel had told Griffin he needed to wrap his arms around his teammates and help carry them through this NCAA tournament. He's not worried about Griffin, not after watching the 6-foot-10, 251-pound sophomore dive over a table for a ball coming off a concussion.

    Insider Intel: UNC-Oklahoma

    Sunday's South final between North Carolina and Oklahoma should be an offensive showdown. Story Insider

    "He's going to play. He's going to be himself, and he's going to attack. ... That's who he is. He's a really, really physical player and with that, there's going to be some ... physical exchanges. I'm not that concerned about it anymore. We've seen it for two years," Capel said.

    Flynn thought he had gotten his feet set to draw the charge with Griffin already having one foul. But Flynn appeared to flinch at the sight of Griffin barreling in on him, movement that may have betrayed him.

    "A guy like that running you over is definitely going to hurt you, and it hurt a bit and my back has a bad bruise," Flynn said. "But I just saw an opportunity there for a game-changing play. ... The official thought otherwise."

    Flynn writhed around for a couple of minutes before getting up. The Orange never did, not with Griffin and Crocker leading the way.

    Crocker, the junior guard who went scoreless in the Sooners' second-round win over Michigan, who helped shred Syracuse's vaunted 2-3 zone. He shot right over the zone, hitting six of his first eight 3s. Crocker had spent extra time working on his shot coming into this game.

    Flynn led Syracuse with 22 points despite playing the second half with a bruised back after that crunching collision with Griffin. Andy Rautins added 12.

    Oklahoma denied Boeheim his career 800th victory in a game that never really was close as the Orange never found their outside shot or the scoring balance that had five players averaging in double figures. Eric Devendorf and Rautins went a combined 1-of-13 in the first half.

    "We have to make shots to win, and when we were 0-for-10, we were in a lot of trouble," Boeheim said of the Orange's totals from 3-point range in the first half.

    The Sooners grabbed the lead from the start off a 3-pointer from Crocker from the top of the key over Devendorf's outstretched hand, and the Sooners' rout was on. They scored eight of the first 10 points, and Griffin had as many points by himself (nine) as the Orange through the first 10 minutes.

    Crocker said that first shot meant a lot after his struggles.

    "That zone gave us a lot of spots to have open shots, so we just tried to take advantage of that," he said.

    Griffin was happy to see the production.

    "It makes our job so much easier when he's playing like he did today. They can't sink down in the zone. They had to respect him all game long because he was hitting shots all game long. It takes our team to another level when he plays like he did today," Griffin said.

    Flynn tried to rally the Orange. He scored six straight points starting with a running one-hander, then a drive and finally a jumper to pull them within 18-17 with 7:15 to go.

    That was as close as they would get as Oklahoma led 39-26 at halftime and put together a 20-2 spurt spanning the halves.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 71 84
    FG Made-Attempted 27-60 (.450) 32-59 (.542)
    3P Made-Attempted 7-24 (.292) 9-21 (.429)
    FT Made-Attempted 10-14 (.714) 11-18 (.611)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 10 (0/0) 14 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 0 27


    » Mar 27, 2009 @OKLA 84, SYR 71Recap