Syracuse 68, Oklahoma State 56
Gerry McNamara took a shot to the head and then delivered a few knockout blows of his own.
Syracuse's freshman guard, who was forced to go to the locker room in the second half after a cut opened above his nose as a result of a collision with Oklahoma State's Victor Williams, scored 12 of his 14 points after the injury to give the Orangemen a 68-56 victory over the Cowboys today in the second round of the East Region.
"Once he got hit in the head, he started to play better," Coach Jim Boeheim said. "We've got to get him hit earlier."
Third-seeded Syracuse (26-5) advances to the round of 16, in which it will face Auburn on Friday in Albany, N.Y.
With blood dripping down his face seconds after he and Williams bumped heads, McNamara made a three-pointer to give Syracuse its first lead, 40-39. He left the game immediately after the play, was tended to on the sideline and disappeared a couple of minutes later.
After baskets from Cheyne Gadson and Tony Allen gave Oklahoma State the lead again, freshman star Carmelo Anthony, who had scored just two points in the first half, sank a three-pointer as Syracuse regained the lead, 45-43.
McNamara came running through the tunnel with a large bandage across his forehead to the cheers of the pro-Syracuse crowd with 12 minutes 10 seconds remaining and sank another three-pointer four minutes later to give the Orangemen a seven-point lead.
Billy Edelin (Silver Spring), who had a game-high 20 points, made a layup and McNamara converted his final three-pointer of the game with 1:50 left to make it 64-52.
"I don't think my right eye was working too good, so I used the left eye to shoot," said McNamara, who received six stitches. "I got hit and was a little wobbly, but I guess it just knocked some sense into me."
With Syracuse's victory, the Big East moved to 8-0 in the NCAA tournament. The last time the conference put four teams in the round of 16 was 1985, when three of them advanced to the Final Four.
Sixth-seeded Oklahoma State (22-10) raced to a 14-2 lead in the first 7:30 and extended the margin to 17 on Gadson's runner in the lane with 6:32 left.
But the Orangemen responded, as they have done often throughout the season, and closed the gap to six points at halftime.
"The difference in the game was our full-court pressure," Boeheim said. "It was a desperation press. When you're down 17 and not going anywhere, you do whatever you have to do to get back in the game."