Jim Boeheim has learned to take victories any way he can get them in 22 seasons at Syracuse.
"When you don't shoot well, it looks like an ugly game," he said Sunday after his Orangemen beat New Mexico 56-46 in the second round of the NCAA tournament."But it doesn't matter how you get there," he added. "We've played a lot of beautiful games and gone home."
There would be the round of 16 where Syracuse (26-8), the fifth seed, will play top-seeded Duke in the South Regional's third round at St. Petersburg, Fla., on Friday. The Blue Devils defeated Oklahoma State 79-73 in Sunday's other second-round game in Rupp Arena.
The Orangemen advanced despite shooting just 34 percent (21-of-62) but turned the ball over only eight times and held a commanding 49-36 advantage in rebounds.
While Syracuse wasn't exactly lighting up the scoreboard, the Orangemen turned in a splendid defensive effort with their 2-3 zone. They held fourth-seeded New Mexico (24-8) to a season-low 26 percent shooting, including 6-of-25 from 3-point range.
"We created some good shots and we missed some good shots," said New Mexico coach Dave Bliss, whose team had just nine turnovers. "It's one of those games. Syracuse is one of the best zone teams in the country, and we're not a team that performs well against a zone."
Etan Thomas scored six points during a 15-6 run in the second half that put the Orangemen in control.
Syracuse's Todd Burgan opened the second half with an alley-oop dunk and 18-foot jumper from the left wing to give the Syracuse a 28-18 lead with 18:45 to go.
New Mexico rallied with a 12-6 run behind Clayton Shields' two 3-pointers and Kenny Thomas' two free throws and short hook shot to close to 34-30 at 14:05.
Twenty seconds later, Jason Hart ignited Syracuse's decisive run with a 3 from the top of the key. Thomas contributed two free throws, a dunk and layup as the Orangemen opened a 49-36 lead with 8:47 left.
New Mexico got no closer than 53-46 on David Gibson's two free throws at 2:38.
Burgan finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Thomas had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
DUKE 79, OKLAHOMA ST. 73: At Lexington, Ky., Duke got booed again, won again and headed back to the NCAA tournament's round of 16 again. All things considered, it wasn't such a bad weekend at Rupp Arena.
Roshown McLeod scored 22 points and had 10 rebounds Sunday as the top-seeded Blue Devils ignored a hostile crowd and hit the big shots down the stretch to beat Oklahoma State 79-73 in the second round of the South Regional.
The Blue Devils (31-3) are back in the round of 16 for the first time since 1994, when they completed a run of eight such appearances in nine years. They'll play Syracuse, which beat New Mexico 56-46 in Sunday's second game, on Friday in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Duke's depth was the deciding thing. The Blue Devils led the entire second half, pushing its advantage to 11 points, and were much fresher in the closing minutes when the Cowboys got within a basket.
Joe Adkins, who led the Cowboys with 20 points, hit a pair of free throws that cut it to 69-66 with 3:26 left. But Adrian Peterson, the Cowboys' leading scorer, missed a 3-pointer and a driving layup on consecutive possessions and his last four shots overall as the comeback came up short.
Peterson finished with 14 points on 5-of-16 shooting.
"Maybe it (tiredness) caused me to miss some shots, but I'm not going to make excuses," Peterson said.
KENTUCKY 88, ST. LOUIS 61: At Atlanta, take that, everyone who thinks the NCAA tournament is a four-team race.
Kentucky, which failed to get a No. 1 seed for the first time since 1994, certainly looks like it deserves to be considered the equal of North Carolina, Duke, Arizona and Kansas.
The second-seeded Wildcats (31-4) extended their month of domination with another double-figure victory Sunday, routing No. 10 seed Saint Louis 88-61 in the second round of the South Regional.
"Ever since the season started, we haven't really gotten respect. We haven't been seen as a great club with a marquee name," Allen Edwards said. "In the Southeastern Conference tournament and the NCAA tournament, we've been playing really good ball and basically blowing teams out.
"If (other teams) don't take it as a message, they might be next."
Saint Louis got the message, loud and clear.
Kentucky scored the first 10 points of the game, then destroyed the Billikens (22-11) with a five-minute stretch later in the half that was a thing of beauty.
After Saint Louis cut the deficit to 19-11 on Ryan Luechtefeld's baseline jumper, Kentucky reeled off the next 19 points, displaying all of its myriad weapons.
UCLA 85, MICHIGAN 82: At Atlanta, written off before they even got here, UCLA's seniors aren't finished quite yet.
Coming off the worst game of his career, senior Kris Johnson sank eight straight free throws over the final 37 seconds Sunday to help the sixth-seeded Bruins (24-8) hold off Michigan for an 85-82 win in the second round of the South Regional.
The game between marquee programs lived up to its billing, a run-and-gun affair with 3-pointers launching, crossover dribbles and tomahawk dunks.
It also had an exciting finish, as Michigan (25-9) cut a late eight-point deficit to two on three occasions in the final 30 seconds, only to see Johnson hit his free throws down the stretch.
It erased memories of his three-point effort in Friday's first-round win over Miami and helped himself and fellow seniors Toby Bailey and J.R. Henderson advance to the round of 16 for the third time in their careers.