BOSTON - C.J. Fair scored 15 and the No. 1 seeded Syracuse Orange survived a scare against a hot-handed Wisconsin Badgers team that made 14 three pointers, winning 64-63 in the Sweet 16 of the 2012 NCAA Tournament on Thursday night at TD Garden.
"This is one of the best games I've been involved with in a long time," said Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. "I think the best game anybody has ever played against us and didn't beat us. They made 14 threes, and usually that's enough. But really proud of our players. Every time they came back and went ahead, we had an answer for it."
The Badgers, led by 17 points and six assists from Jordan Taylor, shot a scorching 51.9 percent from long distance and were 21-for-49 (42.9 percent) from the floor in the game. Syracuse shot 55.1 percent from the field and made 5-of-9 long balls. Both teams had 23 rebounds and six turnovers, and the Badgers held a 15-5 advantage in assists.
Syracuse and Wisconsin played evenly through the first five minutes, but the Badgers used timely three-point shooting (they opened the game 4-for-7 behind the arc) to pull ahead, 17-11, by the 10:38 mark. Jared Berggren (17 points) hit a couple of treys in the early going and had 10 points before sitting down with two fouls near the 12 minute mark.
Dion Waiters (13 points) and Fair helped the Orange back into the game, as their run-and-gun style of play was too much for the Badgers to handle. Waiters, who finished the half with nine points, led Cuse on a 15-6 run to close out the quarter and Fair chipped in with six points in that stretch. Brandon Triche (11 points) also scored nine in the period.
The Orange were outscored 36-31 in the second half, in which the Badgers converted on seven consecutive three pointers before missing their last five shots from long range.
"I'm just really proud of my guys," said Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan. "We can play with anybody in the country, and they proved that again. And I'm just so proud of them, especially all the movement that we made in our progress in different areas defensively and offensively during the season ... These guys did a great job. We played well enough to have this one on our side, it just didn't work out that way."
Syracuse will face the winner of Ohio State and Cincinnati, which tips off at 9:45 p.m. on Thursday night at TD Garden, in the Elite Eight on Saturday for the right to represent the East Region in the Final Four in New Orleans, Louisiana.