Syracuse 79, Auburn 78

March 29, 2003 at 12:21 AM

ALBANY, N.Y., March 28 (UPI) -- Carmelo Anthony bounced back from his second straight scoreless first half for 18 points Friday night and third-seeded Syracuse withstood a barrage of three-pointers down the stretch for a 79-78 victory over No. 10 Auburn in the East Region semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.

Anthony scored all 13 of his points in the second half to help Syracuse to its second-round victory over Oklahoma State. The freshman came through with another strong final 20 minutes as the Orangemen advanced to meet top seed Oklahoma on Sunday.

Syracuse (27-5) led by as many as 16 points in the first half despite Anthony's lack of production. Marquis Daniels and Auburn then started to solve the Orangemen's 2-3 zone and staged a huge rally.

A three-pointer by Derrick Bird pulled Auburn (22-12) within 61-58 with 6:52 remaining. Anthony responded with a driving layup and a three-pointer and, after two free throws by Bird, dunked for a 68-60 advantage with 4:31 to go.

The Tigers made four three-pointers in the final 80 seconds to stay close. Daniels hit one with seven seconds left to cut the deficit to 77-75.

Syracuse found a wide-open Josh Pace for a dunk two seconds later. That was enough to offset a three-pointer by the Tigers' Nathan Watson with less than a second remaining.

The Big East Conference went into the Sweet 16 with all four of its tournament teams still in action, but Syracuse was the only one to survive the round. Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Connecticut were eliminated.

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