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.