NEW YORK (AP) -- Syracuse and Mississippi State both struggled in
the first half. Hakim Warrick made sure Syracuse had a much better
final 20 minutes.
Warrick scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half and the
Orange (No. 6 ESPN/USA Today; No. 5 AP) beat Mississippi State (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today; No. 12 AP) 71-58 Thursday
night in the semifinals of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
"We got him the ball. We made a conscious effort to get him the
ball," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said of the difference in
Warrick in the two halves. "We showed patience and got much better
Syracuse (3-0) will play Memphis (No. 23 ESPN/USA Today; No. 24 AP) on Friday night in the
championship game at Madison Square Garden. The Tigers (3-0) beat
Saint Mary's 81-66 in the other semifinal.
Syracuse and Mississippi State (2-1) were tied 25-25 at
halftime. Syracuse had the better shooting half, hitting 29.4
percent to the Bulldogs' 26.5. The Orange were 1-for-8 from 3-point
range, Mississippi State was 1-for-9.
The matchup of preseason All-Americans was even, too, and not
very good. Warrick had four points on 2-for-5 shooting and Lawrence
Roberts of the Bulldogs, playing for the first time this season,
had two points and missed all five of his shots.
Warrick, a 6-foot-8 senior, had six points in Syracuse's 11-0
run to open the second half and the Orange stayed about that far in
front the rest of the way.
"I think once we all got going it was really us," Warrick
said. "That's what got me going."
Gerry McNamara missed his first six 3-point attempts before
hitting two around a dunk by Warrick on his alley-oop pass to give
the Orange a 56-43 lead with 9:18 to play.
Warrick had 10 rebounds and McNamara finished with nine points
and seven assists for the Orange, who went 21-for-31 from the field
in the second half (67.7 percent).
"I thought we executed about as well as we could in the second
half," Boeheim said. "What did we shoot? Sixty-seven percent.
Yeah, that's good. We executed better, got good movement and better
Roberts, the Southeastern Conference player of the year last
season, missed the Bulldogs' opener because of an NCAA suspension
over payment to an NBA pre-draft workout. He missed the second game
recovering from a broken nose in practice last week.
Playing with a face mask, Roberts finished with nine points and
12 rebounds. He was 2-for-9 from the field and never looked
comfortable in his 28 minutes.
"We knew he would play we just didn't know how much,"
Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said of Roberts. "He hasn't
practiced and we couldn't expect that much out of him but he still
gets us 12 rebounds. It's his presence out there that helps the
team. He missed some chippies he normally makes. Unfortunately for
us he had to play that much tonight."
Shane Power had 18 points for Mississippi State, which shot 31.3
percent for the game (20-for-64).
"It was that first 4, 5 minutes of the second half. That was a
big spurt," Stansbury said. "In the first half we did a good job
on Warrick and McNamara. Then Warrick changed the emotion and
energy level of their team and we didn't show a lot of poise."
Syracuse is 3-0 all-time against Mississippi State with the last
meeting in the NCAA semifinals in 1996.