No. 1 Syracuse survives upset bid
James Southerland had a team-high 15 points and eight rebounds as top-seeded Syracuse survived a major scare before knocking off UNC-Asheville 72-65 in its NCAA Tournament opener Thursday at Pittsburgh.Kris Joseph finished with 12 points and eight rebounds and Scoop Jardine added 11 points and seven assists for the Orange (32-2), who trailed by four at halftime and by as many as six with 17:38 left.But Syracuse came back late to avoid becoming the first team to fall to a No. 16 seed and will now advance to play No. 8 seed Kansas State on Saturday.J.P. Primm had a team-high 18 points for UNC-Asheville (24-10), which won the Big South Conference title and was making its third NCAA tournament appearance in the last seven years. Jaron Lane had 16 points and seven rebounds and Jeremy Atkinson added 12.Lane helped the Bulldogs pull even at 54 with 6:42 left, but Syracuse responded with an 8-0 run – a pair of baskets by Southerland and a three-point play by Joseph.With the Orange up 62-58 with 1:20 left, Jardine missed the front-end of a 1-and-1, giving the Bulldogs a chance to cut into the deficit further. But Primm was whistled for a lane violation, and Jardine made a pair of free throws to extend the advantage to six.After Lane hit a 3-pointer to pull the Bulldogs within 64-61 with 1:07 left, Brandon Triche made a layup on the ensuing possession to stretch Syracuse’s lead to five. The Bulldogs twice cut the deficit to three, but the Orange made six straight free throws in the final 34 seconds to seal the victory.Matt Dickey, UNC-Asheville’s leading scorer at 16.5 points per game, finished 1-of-13 from the field and had a season-low five points.Dion Waiters had 12 points for the Orange, who are without sophomore center Fab Melo after he was declared ineligible by the NCAA on Tuesday.