Orange shooters find range as Syracuse advances

Andy Rautins and Eric Devendorf returned to form, Syracuse’s zone baffled and frustrated Pac-10 Player of the Year James Harden, and the Orange moved on to the Sweet 16 with a 78-67 win over the Sun Devils.

The tandem are Syracuse’s two primary outside threats, but both failed to find the range in Syracuse’s opening round game against Stephen F. Austin, going a combined 3-for-17 from the field.

But that was not the case on Sunday, as the two guards accounted for 38 points on 11-of-24 shooting.

“Regardless as a shooter you have to keep shooting no matter what,” Rautins said. “Eric and I, we didn’t shoot the ball well last game and we came out and were stroking it well today. That’s what good shooters do, they bounce back and they stay confident.”

The two came out firing early, as Syracuse (28-9) raced out to a 41-32 lead at halftime and built a 15 point second-half lead. It seemed the Orange would put the game out of reach as Sun Devil center Jeff Pendergraph fouled out.

But Arizona State (25-10) responded with a 10-2 run, capped by a Ty Abbott 3-pointer to pull within 61-57 with 6:38 left.

That’s when Rautins and Devendorf took over.

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Orange dominate paint, rolls past Lumberjacks

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim’s message was clear – get the ball inside.

The Orange certainly heeded his message.

Forward Rick Jackson (6-foot-9, 240 pounds) and center Arinze Onuaku (6-9, 275) combined for 24 points and 17 rebounds as No. 3 seed Syracuse easily dispatched No. 14 seed and NCAA Tournament newcomer Stephen F. Austin 59-44 in opening round South Regional play.

“Coach was saying in the huddle, ‘We’re a bigger, stronger team, let’s pound it down low,’” forward Paul Harris said. “We got it down low.”

Syracuse quickly established its inside presence as Jackson blocked Lumberjack center Matt Kingsley on the first possession.

The Orange brought the ball down the floor and immediately threw it down low to Jackson who found Onuaku for an easy lay-in. On the ensuing possession, Jackson took an entry pass for an emphatic slam, which propelled Syracuse to a 20-4 lead.

The Lumberjacks would never be able to get back within single digits.

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