Let’s be honest – the referees ruined this game. They got everyone important in foul trouble – at one point, there had been 31 fouls called in 27 minutes – and both teams were shooting 1-and-1 with 13 minutes left in the second half. It was an abomination.
Anyway, Ohio State made free throws late and held off pesky Syracuse, 77-70. The Buckeyes are headed to the Final Four in New Orleans. Ohio State will play the Kansas/UNC winner.
The first player to be impacted by the whistle-happy refs was Jared Sullinger, who picked up two and sat out the final 10 minutes of the first half. But Syracuse couldn’t take advantage, and the teams were tied at 29 at the half.
Dion Waiters, Syracuse’s best player, struggled shooting (2-8) and fouled out. Despite the down game, I can’t imagine him returning to Syracuse, and I think he’ll go to the draft and be taken around 20th in the first round.
Kris Joseph, the Syracuse senior who struggled late against Wisconsin, ended his career on a down note. He missed seven of 11 shots and turned the ball over twice on back-to-back trips with less than five minutes left when Syracuse was desperately clawing back.
Syracuse certainly could have used ineligible center Fab Melo to try and slow Sullinger, who bullied his way to 19 points (9-of-12 FTs). Rakeem Christmas did have a dunk, though.
Here’s a nice shot by Sullinger, with a great call by Raftery.
Since this was Raftery’s final game of the hoops season, here’s his best exchange of the game with Verne:
[Videos via the Superb Mike]