MEMPHIS, Tenn. With 8:11 left in the game, Jonny Flynn went up for a dunk. Syracuse fans have seen him make it time and time again. Flynn missed. Eight seconds later, Blake Griffin stuffed the ball in the basket to give Oklahoma a 74-52 lead.
It was that kind of night. Oklahoma (30-5) capitalized on Syracuse’s (28-10) numerous miscues en route to a convincing 84-71 win at the Fed Ex Forum, ending the Orange’s season.
“We just made some mistakes that we don’t usually make,” sophomore forward Rick Jackson said. “And we had to pay for it.”
There were plenty of missteps in the Music City. Three- pointers, which helped propel the Orange to a three seed in the NCAA Tournament, continued to be a problem. SU shot an abysmal 7-24 from behind the arc.
“We had really good looks in the first half when we went 0 for 10 from the three,” Jim Boeheim said. “I think that was — we just got in a big hole we couldn’t get ourselves out of.”
The challenge coming into the game was stopping National Player of the Year frontrunner Blake Griffin. The Orange couldn’t find an answer. Griffin finished with 30 points and 14 rebounds.
“He’s patient. He takes his time in there,” Boeheim said. “He’s obviously a very good rebounder…He’s as good around the basket as anybody that I’ve seen.”
Griffin was not SU’s only problem. Syracuse also had no luck stopping guard Tony Crocker, who had made just one of his last 15 three-point attempts coming into the Sweet 16. He sunk six trifectas and scored 28 points.
“Crocker came out there and had a tremendous shooting night,” sophomore guard Jonny Flynn said. “They deserved to win, and they were the better team tonight.”
Syracuse was able to make things interesting. After falling behind 12-4 in the first half, the Orange went on an 12-6 run to close the gap to 18-17. Oklahoma responded with a 21-9. SU would never get that close again, cutting it only to 14 late in the second half.
Flynn once again provided a bright spot in what could have been his final game with Syracuse. The point guard finished with 22, including 13 in the second half while suffering from a bruised lower back. Flynn would not say much about his future after the game, telling reporters he would need to talk it over with his family first.
“I love my teammates. I’m happy just being a student at Syracuse. That’s all I got to say,” he said.
For an in-depth recap on SU’s season and a look to the future check out On the Bench Friday, April 4 at 4:30 on Time Warner 26. Also be sure to check citrustv.net for the full episode of our post game show, Orange Press Pass, for a recap of the game. It will be posted shortly.