PITTSBURGH — It had been a while since Syracuse played like the team that spent all season ranked in the top 5.
In the second half Saturday, the top-seeded Orange looked like that group and maybe even better, pulling away to a 75-59 victory over eighth-seeded Kansas State in the third round of the East Regional.
“The second half, we made shots. We haven’t done that lately,” Orange coach Jim Boeheim said. “Our offense was not good in the first half. We had to pick it up on the offensive end. Our defense was very good the first half. We got killed on the boards. ”
Scoop Jardine had 16 points and eight assists, Dion Waiters had 18 points and James Southerland added 15 for the Orange
(33-2), who didn’t wait until the final minutes to seal the win as they did in the second round against 16th-seeded North Carolina-Asheville.
“I think we picked it up on both ends of the floor. Especially on the defensive end, we got what we wanted. We were able to get transition baskets,” said Kris Joseph, who had 11 points. “… This is the way I like us to play.”
They hadn’t looked that way lately, even in their wins.
Syracuse scored fewer than 70 points — it averages 74.5 — in five of the past seven games. The Orange shot better than 46.5 percent from the field — their mark for the season — only once.
“We won. We won the game. It don’t matter,” Jardine said. “It don’t matter if we played good or bad. We won and advanced.”
Rodney McGruder had 15 points for the Wildcats (22-11), who struggled from the field against Syracuse’s 2-3 zone defense.