Aaron Craft was 7-for-9 from the field, 5-for-5 in the paint on Saturday. Guard play was the story of the early-afternoon games in the Men's Basketball Championship on Saturday. Here's a closer look at the wins by the Syracuse Orange and Ohio State Buckeyes, each of whom advanced to the Round of 16.
Syracuse’s win was the 47th in the Men’s Basketball Championship for head coach Jim Boeheim. That’s tied for the fifth-most all-time with John Wooden (who did all of his coaching before the tournament expanded to six rounds). Boeheim is two wins behind Jim Calhoun for fourth-most, 32 behind all-time leader Mike Krzyzewski.
The Syracuse bench dominated, going 10-for-15 from the field (including 3-for-4 on 3-pointers) and 10-for-11 from the free throw line. The Orange bench outscored Kansas State’s reserves, 33-0.
Syracuse with Dion Waiters
Round of 32 vs Kansas State
In particular, Syracuse was at its best with Dion Waiters on the floor. The Orange outscored Kansas State 47-30 in the 24 minutes in which he played, and tallied all 12 of their transition points with him in the game.
Scoop Jardine was also a catalyst. He scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half, and also had eight assists for the game, his most since February 8th.
During Jardine's career, Syracuse is 17-1 when he has at least eight assists. Syracuse held Kansas State to just 18 percent shooting (6-of-33) outside the paint. That's the lowest percentage by a Syracuse opponent on those types of shots in the last three Men's Basketball Championships.
The Orange shot 67 percent in the second half, including 5-for-5 from 3-point range.
Kansas State was able to hang in with Syracuse for much of the game because of its offensive rebounding. Jordan Henriquez had 11 of the team’s 25 offensive rebounds, one shy of the tournament record set by Bo Kimble in 1990.
Looking ahead, the Orange have lost their last three games in the Round of 16 since winning the national championship in 2003.
The Buckeyes are headed to the Round of 16 for the third straight season, the longest such streak since the Sweet 16 began in 1975.
Ohio State’s Aaron Craft finished with his first career double-double, recording 17 points and 10 assists. His seven baskets tied a career high. Craft was 5-for-5 in the paint and finished with a team-best 10 of the Buckeyes’ 24 paint points.
In two seasons, Craft never had more than nine assists in a regular-season game, but he's now had at least 10 assists in the Round of 32 twice. Last year against George Mason in the Men’s Basketball Championship Round of 32, Craft had 15 assists.
Ohio State made nine 3-pointers, with Craft assisting on seven of them.
The Buckeyes accounted for 27 of their 73 points (37 percent) on 3-pointers, their highest percentage of points from 3-pointers in a game this season. Entering Saturday, they ranked last in the Big Ten in percentage of points from 3-pointers (20 percent).
Rebounding was also a key. Gonzaga dominated the offensive glass in the first half, with nine offensive rebounds and 13 second-chance points. The Buckeyes clamped down in the second half, limiting the Bulldogs to four offensive rebounds and two second-chance points.
Ohio State entered Saturday allowing opponents to grab only 25 percent of their missed shots, the best percentage in the Big Ten.