2:00 PM ET, February 23, 2003
Jack Breslin Student Events Center, East Lansing, Michigan
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- An NCAA tournament-type game came a month early.Freshman Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points and Syracuse (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP) held on to beat Michigan State 76-75 Sunday as the Spartans had three chances to win the game in the final six seconds. Kelvin Torbert hit rim on a short side jumper, Adam Ballinger missed on a tap and Alan Anderson misfired from the lane after grabbing a loose ball. "It was a great game and it was fun to be a part of it,'' Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said of a game with 12 lead changes and 11 ties. "It would not have been too fun to lose it.'' Syracuse (19-4) has won six of seven as it continues to be one of the nation's hottest teams since joining the Top 25 for the first time on Jan. 26. "Out of all the wins we've had,'' Anthony said, "I think this was probably the most important because it was on the road and it was a must-win situation for them.'' Michigan State's Chris Hill scored a career-high 34 points, including a Big Ten-record 10 3-pointers, but it wasn't enough to give the Spartans (14-11) the win they needed to improve their fading hopes of making the NCAA tournament. "We played about as hard we could play, and as well as we could play,'' Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "Chris Hill had an incredible day. I'm disappointed to see him have a game like that and not feel as good as he should feel. "They deserve the credit. It's a game we could've won. I'm not saying we should've won. It's just heartbreaking.'' Izzo believes the Spartans -- who have four wins against ranked opponents, including one at then-No. 12 Kentucky -- need at least 17 victories to advance to a sixth straight NCAA tournament. The 2000 national champions play three of their last four games at home, before the Big Ten tournament. Michigan State sold out the Breslin Center for an 80th straight time, and lost for just the fifth time during a stretch that began in 1998. "It was a great atmosphere and a terrific basketball game,'' Boeheim said. The game was tied for an 11th time with 12 minutes left when Hill made his ninth 3-pointer, which tied the school and Big Ten record shared by five players. Syracuse then scored six straight points to go up 67-61 with 8:46 left. The Spartans pulled within two twice, and to three points for a third time on Hill's 3-pointer from nearly 30 feet with 1:11 left. "I'd give back all those 3-pointers for a win,'' Hill said. Anderson made two free throws to cut Syracuse's lead to 76-75 with 37 seconds left, and the Spartans got the ball back after Billy Edelin missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Torbert missed a short shot along the baseline over 7-footer Craig Forth, and after a scramble that included Ballinger's tip toward the basket, Anderson missed an off-balance shot in the middle of the lane and the ball bounced out of bounds as the horn sounded. "It was just one of those plays you've got to finish,'' Torbert said. Michigan State's Aloysius Anagonye had 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while reserve Paul Davis added 10 points. Hakim Warrick scored 17 points for the Orangemen, while Kueth Duany and Edelin each added 10. Warrick's three-point play put Syracuse ahead 31-28 with 9:27 left in the first half and the Orangeman led by as many as nine before taking a 44-39 halftime lead. In the first half, Hill was 5-of-7 from 3-point range and had 17 points. Anthony made all four of his 3-point attempts and scored 15 points. Hill finished 12-of-20 overall, and 10-of-18 on 3-pointers. Anthony, who was making just 33.7 percent of his 3-pointers, made all five of his 3-point attempts and was 8-of-15 overall. "When he's shooting the ball well from the outside, he's not guardable,'' Boeheim said. "I don't think anybody, or any two guys, can guard him when he's shooting well from the outside. "Tom (Izzo) told me before the game that (15 NBA scouts) were here, so I guess he's pretty good.''
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