PITTSBURGH, March 15 (UPI) -- James Southerland keyed a late run that allowed top-seeded Syracuse to slip past North Carolina-Asheville 72-65 in the NCAA Tournament second round.
Asheville (24-10) played Syracuse even through more than 34 minutes and appeared to be a serious threat to be the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1. Top seeds were 108--0 versus 16s over the last 27 seasons.
But Southerland hit a jump shot and, after Kris Joseph completed a 3-point play, drilled a 3-point shot from the top of the key for a 62-54 lead.
Asheville fought back with a Jaron Lane 3-point shot getting the Bulldogs within 64-61 but Syracuse was able to hit free throws that kept the No. 1 seeds perfect against the No. 16 teams.
The win put the Orange (32-2) into the third round Saturday against eighth-seeded Kansas State (22-10). The Wildcats opened their tournament play with a 70-64 win over Southern Mississippi earlier Thursday.
Southerland had 13 of his team-high 15 points in the second half. Joseph and Dion Waiters each scored 12 points for Syracuse.
Ashville's J.P. Primm led all scorers with 18 and Lane had 16 for the Bulldogs.
Syracuse was playing without Fab Melo, the Big East defensive player of the year, who was declared ineligible just before Syracuse traveled to Pittsburgh.