Syracuse was struggling to score and down seven with seven minutes to go. Then the Orange caught fire and rallied to eliminate Arizona State 60-56 Wednesday night in the finale of the First Four at UD Arena.
Freshman Oshae Brissett scored 15 of his 23 points in the second half to lead the Orange in front of a sellout crowd of 12,372 and a First Four record.
Syracuse (21-13) will play Midwest Region No. 6 TCU at 9:40 p.m. Friday in Detroit. It’s TCU’s first tournament appearance in 20 years.
The second half was one run after another. ASU (20-12) jumped to a 38-31 lead with a 10-1 run to start the half. The teams traded 8-3 runs that left ASU up 49-42 with 7:03 left. Then Syracuse went on a 13-3 run capped by Tyus Battle’s 3-pointer to take a 55-52 lead with 1:49 left.
ASU’s Kodi Justice, who scored 13 of his team-high 15 points in the second half, scored with 51 seconds left to cut the lead to one. The Orange beat the press and got the ball to 7-foot-2 center Paschal Chukwu under the basket. His shot rolled off the rim, but he made both free throws to restore the three-point lead.
Mickey Mitchell made a difficult shot in the lane with 15 seconds left to cut the lead to one again. Chukwu was fouled on the inbounds play and made one free throw for a 58-56 lead. But ASU couldn’t score again and Frank Howard made to clinching free throws four-tenths of a second left.
Syracuse took a 21-16 lead on a Battle 3-pointer with 7:04 left in the half. But ASU got two 3-pointers from Shannon Evans II and chipped away to trail only 30-28 at halftime. Evans scored 11 points in the half and Battle had 10.
Battle added 15 points and Howard 12 for the Orange.