With a berth in the Sweet 16 on the line, Syracuse painted the town orange as four players finished in double-figures in a 75-50 spanking of Middle Tennessee State in the second round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
Michael Gbinije led all players with 23 points, Tyler Lydon had 14 points, seven rebounds and six blocks, Tyler Roberson added 12 points and nine rebounds and Trevor Cooney netted 12. Syracuse totaled 11 blocks in the contest.
Syracuse exercised its will on MTSU in the second half after taking a four-point halftime lead to the locker room. The Blue Raiders erased a double-digit lead just before the break, but couldn't slow the Orange in the second half, being outscored 44-23 in the game's final 20 minutes.
The Orange shot 55.1 percent (27-49) from the field and 40 percent (8-20) from beyond the arc, while holding MTSU to only 29.7 percent (19-64) from the field. Darnell Harris was the only Blue Raiders' player to score in double-figures, netting 11 points in the loss.
Gbinijie's dunk gave Syracuse a 17-10 led with 12:43 to go in the first half and a Roberson jumper ballooned the edge to 10 midway through the opening stanza. Back-to-back Harris jumpers, including a triple with less than a minute left in the half made it 30-27, but a Lydon free throw with 20 seconds left gave Syracuse a 31-27 led at the break.
Giddy Potts drained a triple early in the second half to give MTSU its only lead of the game, 33-31. Roberson put the Orange back in front for good but the Blue Raiders failed to go down without a fight. Perrin Buford pulled MTSU to within one, 40-39 with 16:02 remaining, but Syracuse's suffocating zone defense forced the Blue Raiders to miss 15 of their final 16 field goal attempts while the Orange used a 21-2 run to push the game out of reach.
Game one hero Reggie Upshaw (21 points vs. MSU) finished with only two points on a 1-10 shooting performance while grabbing eight rebounds in the losing effort. MTSU Head Coach Kermit Davis said the team wouldn't be defined by the lopsided loss to Syracuse.
"They won't be defined by this game," said Davis. "Their legacy in the NCAA Tournament is secure. We were a team that overcame two significant injuries and won a huge game in the tournament against a great Michigan State team."
Syracuse's Gbinije said he was never worried by the idea of losing to MTSU.
"I'm just trying to paying attention to the time and score and just make sure we are efficient on the offensive side."
Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim said his team is well prepared for the national tournament.
"We're not playing North Carolina, Duke and Florida State," said Boeheim. "We played good in those games too, we've just played in a tough conference and we're used to tough competition."
Middle Tennessee struggled to score, shooting under 30 percent for the game. Raymond and Giddy Potts added 11.
The Blue Raiders finish the season with a record of 25-10. Syracuse heads to the Sweet Sixteen and their Friday night opponent Gonzaga.
Syracuse advances to the Sweet 16 for a matchup with No. 11 Gonzaga Friday night in Chicago.