BOSTON, March 23 (UPI) -- Freshman Billy Edelin scored 20 points Sunday and the third-seeded Syracuse Orangemen rallied from a 17-point, first-half deficit to defeat Oklahoma State, 68-56, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament's East Region.
The Orangemen (26-5) made it back to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2000 and will face Auburn in the regional semifinals Friday night in Albany, N.Y., about a two-hour drive from the Syracuse campus.
"That's big for us. We're going to have some good crowd support," Syracuse freshman Gerry McNamara said. "We're going back home, pretty much. I think it's going to be big playing those games up there."
McNamara had all 14 of his points in the second half and fellow freshman Carmelo Anthony had 11 of his 13 after intermission for Syracuse, which makes its fifth trip to the regional semifinals since 1993.
"This was a tremendous effort. To come back from 17 down against a very, very good team is difficult to do, especially with young guys," Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim said. "Our young guys have fought all year long. The one thing I'll give them credit for is they always fight hard."
Boeheim won his 34th NCAA Tournament game, tying Georgetown's John Thompson for eighth place on the all-time list. The Orangemen are in the Sweet 16 for the 12th time in his 27 seasons.
The Cowboys (22-10) jumped out to a 25-8 lead in the first 12 1/2 minutes. Victor Williams set tone with a three-pointer in the first minute and Ivan McFarlin capped the spurt with a pair of baskets in a 23-second span.
"Early on, they pressured us and we fell right into their hands," McNamara said. Being a point guard and a two-guard at the same time, I fell right into it. I rushed shots and didn't do what a point guard or a shooting guard should do and that's get a team involved."
Syracuse finally gained its composure and closed the half with a key 15-4 run to cut the Cowboys' halftime edge to 35-31. Edelin was the catalyst with 10 points in that span.
Two jumpers by Josh Pace and two layups by Edelin moved Syracuse to within 29-18 with 4:05 left. A free throw and layup by Hakim Warrick and a pair of free throws by Edelin capped the run.
While Syracuse was staring to roll, the Cowboys were losing their composure.
"At the beginning of the game, our strategy that we were talking about in the locker room was working," Oklahoma State forward Victor Williams said. "We started to get away from it and do different things and we didn't go back to what coach was telling us to do."
The Orangemen kept up the pressure in the second half, taking their first lead on a three-pointer by McNamara that made it 40-39 with 14:27 left. Anthony had a three-pointer with 12:37 left to put the Orangemen ahead to stay at 45-43.
"We forced shots and they pushed the ball at us. We never gave up," Anthony said. "That's one thing I like about this team, we never give up."
Anthony's basket was part of a 10-0 run that began with two free throws by Warrick. Anthony had a three-pointer and a layup and McNamara made one as well with 8:11 left to make it 50-43.
McFarlin had 14 points and 12 rebounds and Williams 13 points for the Cowboys, whose once promising season ended with seven losses in their last 10 games. Oklahoma State won 15 straight games at one point and did not lose a game in December or January.
"The last half may have been one of the worst 20-minute periods that we had all season long," Cowboys Coach Eddie Sutton said. "It's hard to beat a good basketball team when you turn it over 22 times and you shoot 35 percent."