2018-03-18 18:34:04
N.C.A.A. Men’s Tournament: Purdue Survives Without Isaac Haas

18:34, March 18 156 0

It was their third game in five days, they had only seven scholarship players and they were battling in an arena filled to the rafters with the green-and-white colors of their opponent.

But No. 11 Syracuse had already made a statement that it belongs in the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday vs. Arizona State. On Friday vs. Texas Christian, it announced that it had been, perhaps, a bit overlooked.

And on Sunday, with a stunning 55-53 upset over No. 3 Michigan State, the Orange has officially crashed the Big Dance.

Their style won’t inspire poetry, but it has proved effective at disrupting and disarming opponents, and even belying the statistics that normally augur success in this tournament. The Spartans out-rebounded the Orange on the offensive glass, 29-7, a margin so great as to be almost unbelievable. Despite all those second-chance opportunities, Michigan State managed a meager 17 field goals all game.

Syracuse, with just 15, made even less, and the team is Coach Jim Boeheim’s worst offensive squad in recent memory. It is practically an affront to a modern game predicated on spreading the floor, moving the pace, driving and dishing for deep open shots.

Yeah, and so what? The Orange keeps winning.

It helped that Michigan State missed its last 14 shots. Down three with the ball and 7.8 seconds remaining, Boeheim elected to foul the Spartans’ sharpshooter, Matt McQuade, before he could get a shot up. He would do the same to Cassius Winston with 3.7 seconds remaining as well.

By making it a free-throw shooting contest, Syracuse was hoping the Spartans would not come up with any miraculous shots. That gamble paid off. After Paschal Chukwu missed one of his two free throws with 2.4 seconds remaining, Winston had a chance for a half-court buzzer-beater, but it sailed too far left.

For the game, the Spartans shot 21.6 percent from 3-point range. More than half their shot attempts were from beyond the arc. Those were the looks that Syracuse’s 2-3 zone would allow.

Playing in Detroit, just an hour from Michigan State’s campus, the arena was filled with Spartans’ fans eager to see their team advance to a Round of 16 matchup with No. 2 seed Duke.

A balanced team, Michigan State was seen by many as a national title contender in what has been a tumultuous year for the university and the program. The school’s president and athletic director both left in the fallout over its handling of Lawrence G. Nassar, the former university doctor who is serving the first of several lengthy sentences for multiple sex crimes against young athletes, particularly gymnasts.

Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo was also accused of not properly handling multiple cases of sexual assault involving his players in the past. He has said only that he is cooperating with any investigations.

Syracuse was a far different story. The last team chosen by the tournament selection committee to enter the field of 68, the Orange were forced to play in Dayton in one of the First Four games against Arizona State on Wednesday.

After winning that game, they held T.C.U. to a season-low in points in a win Friday night. Meanwhile, the Orange remain the only team to win a game in this tournament without scoring more than 60 points. They have done it now three times in a row.

PURDUE 76, BUTLER 73 When the news went out shortly after Purdue’s win over Cal State Fullerton on Friday, it sounded definitive that Isaac Haas, the Boilermakers’ starting center, would not be able to return for the remainder of the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament.

Yet there was Haas, warming up on the court Sunday before the No. 2 Purdue faced No. 10 Butler, wearing a brace on his newly fractured right elbow.

Haas’s inspirational attempt at an improbable comeback was ultimately thwarted when the N.C.A.A. ruled that his brace did not conform to safety standards. But Purdue managed to advance to the Round of 16 without him, beating the Bulldogs, 76-73.

The game was competitive until its final second and just after time expired Kamar Baldwin released a heave from almost half-court which rattled around the rim. It was a near-miss that had the potential to send the game to overtime and was reminiscent of the shot by former Butler star Gordon Hayward in the national title game in 2010.

Purdue had led by as much as 10 in the second half, but the Bulldogs fought to keep it close. After three consecutive Boilermakers turnovers in the final two minutes, it was 73-71 with 42 seconds remaining when Kelan Martin (29 points) missed a 3-pointer that would have given Butler its first lead since early in the half. On the next possession, Purdue’s Dakota Matthias hit a 3-pointer with 17 seconds remaining to push the lead to six.

The Boilermakers, one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the nation, wound up 11 of 24 from beyond the arc, and 50 percent from the field. Even without Haas, their 7-foot-2 center, they outrebounded the Bulldogs, 30-28, and got to the free-throw line more often, while Butler missed its last nine 3-point attempts.

Haas, who broke the elbow during the second half Thursday, could barely lift his right arm above his head and planned to shoot only with his left hand. But the thought of him trying to grit through a matchup in the paint with a physical Butler team might have been enough to rouse his teammates.

His replacement, 7-foot-3 freshman Matt Haarms, was active defensively, blocked two shots, and added seven points and six rebounds.

Vincent Edwards led Purdue with 20 points, while also producing four rebounds and a crucial block on a layup attempt by Baldwin with 1 minute 31 seconds remaining that would have tied the game.