McNamara held in check as Texas A&M ousts Syracuse
Jacksonville, FL (Sports Network) – Acie Law scored 23 points, as Texas A&M
held Gerry McNamara without a field goal in a 66-58 win over fifth-seeded
Syracuse in the first round of the Atlanta bracket in the NCAA Tournament.
Joseph Jones added 12 points and seven rebounds for the 12th-seeded Aggies
(22-8), who will face LSU in the second round on Saturday. The Tigers beat
Iona earlier in the evening.
“We are just playing together and we expect to put ourselves in situations to
win at the end of the game,” Law said. “We have confidence that we can beat
anybody down the stretch.”
It was an unceremonious ending for the second straight year in the NCAA
Tournament for the Orange (23-12), and especially senior McNamara, who
went 0-for-6 from the field and had just two points. It was the first time
in his 135 games in his collegiate career he didn’t have a basket.
The Orange became the first team in Big East Tournament history to win four
games on the way to successfully defending their title, with McNamara starring
last week. However, those four wins in four days, by a combined eight points,
may have taken a toll on Syracuse, as the Orange were beaten in the first
round by a much lower seed in the NCAA Tournament for a second straight year.
In 2005, it was 13th-seeded Vermont that upset the Orange.
Terrence Roberts had 16 points and nine rebounds before fouling out for
Syracuse, which shot 39.2 percent from the field, better than Texas A&M
(35.7%). However, the Orange were just 4-of-19 from three-point range and
failed to catch up completely after trailing by nine points at halftime.
Just three years ago, McNamara lifted Syracuse to the national title, but on
this night, it was the A&M defense that bottled up the standout guard, who
played just 23 minutes.
“I feel great about it,” McNamara said about his final contest. “My last game
that we lost, probably because of me.”
McNamara had overcome a groin injury during the Big East Tournament and seemed
a little gimpy Thursday night.
“He is one of the better players in the game of college basketball,” Texas A&M
head coach Billy Gillispie said. “I’m not totally aware of his situation, but
he is extremely hard to defend.”
The Aggies, in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1987, posted their
first win in the tourney since 1980.
Texas A&M controlled most of the first half, although Syracuse did hold a
17-16 edge with 10:26 left following a free throw by Roberts. However, the
Aggies exploded for eight straight points, started by consecutive threes from
Law and Josh Carter.
Carter drained another shot beyond the arc just before the halftime buzzer to
make it 33-24.
Two free throws by Jones expanded Texas A&M’s lead to 39-28 with just under 15
minutes remaining and the Orange failed in their bid to catch up, although
they did get within three points at 51-48 after a three by Eric Devendorf with
2:41 to go.
Syracuse was within 55-51 with 1:49 left after a three-pointer from Demetris
Nichols, but the Aggies rattled off he next eight points to seal the win.
Texas A&M had 17 points off 12 Syracuse turnovers, while the Orange had six
off 10 Aggies miscues…This was Gillispie’s first NCAA Tournament win…Josh
Wright had 12 points and Devendorf scored 11 for the Orange.