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Greene, Flynn carry Syracuse to upset of Marquette

Mar 9, 2008 - 5:56 AM SYRACUSE, New York (Ticker) -- Freshmen Donte Greene and Jonny Flynn continued to play with poise well beyond their years.

Greene and Flynn combined for 42 points Saturday as Syracuse greatly improved its chances for an NCAA Tournament berth with an 87-72 victory over No. 20 Marquette in the Big East regular-season finale for both teams.

Despite having a team full of freshmen and sophomores, coach Jim Boeheim's Orange came out determined for a critical win that bolstered their run-of-the-mill postseason resume.

With his team on the bubble each of the last three years and a notable exemption last season, Boeheim chose not to comment about his squad's postseason chances.

"I won't talk about it for the rest of my coaching career," he said. "We're just going to go out and play. Everyone else can talk about it."

Not scarred by last season's lack of a NCAA berth, Greene had more to say on the subject.

"There are definitely some good wins, to knock off two top teams - Georgetown and Marquette are in the Top 25 - but I still think we just need to play," he said. "This is what we should have been doing all season. It just took a little while to get it together. We're playing well now and definitely looking to go down to the (Madison Square) Garden and take it one game at a time and just try to win."

The victory came just a week after Syracuse (19-12, 9-9 Big East) appeared to have its NCAA bubble burst at home, coughing up an 11-point lead inside the final four minutes in losing to Pittsburgh.

The Orange rebounded with an 85-73 win over struggling Seton Hall on Wednesday, and took control of a tight game against the Golden Eagles with a 13-6 run just before halftime.

"It's always hard when you have a loss like that, it's easy to get down when you're young," Boeheim said of the loss to Pittsburgh. "Marquette is a very tough, physical team. They're not an easy team to play by any stretch of the imagination.

"They played 10 guys in the first half, they were pressuring us, I'm sure their thought was, 'This is Syracuse's third game in the week, let's get after them, let's push them, let's put pressure on them.' And they did."

Greene and Flynn did not seem to be that bothered by the pressure, combining for nine points during the burst, which enabled Syracuse to take a 36-31 lead at the half. The duo had 22 points before the break.

The advantage for the Orange grew to 13 points nearly midway through the second half as the Golden Eagles struggled from the field.

Able to make just 12-of-29 shots after the break, Marquette (22-8, 11-7) saw Syracuse push the lead to 80-64 with 2:55 remaining on Paul Harris' 3-pointer.

Greene finished with 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting, scoring 17 or more points for fifth time in his last eight games.

Flynn also had 21 points - hitting three 3-pointers - and handed out seven assists. It was his eighth game in the last nine with 16 or more points.

Both Greene and Flynn are expected to figure highly in the the results of the Big East Rookie of the Year award.

"I don't know what will happen," Boeheim said. "They have both been tremendous. I couldn't pick between one of them. I think they both probably should be, but I don't know if it'll work out that way. It's hard to win nine games in this league with all freshmen and sophomores. I think these guys have done a tremendous job."

Harris and Arinze Onuaku both had 14 points for the Orange, who shot 58 percent (29-of-50) in improving to 2-5 against ranked teams this season.

Jerel McNeal scored 22 points for the Golden Eagles, who only received nine points from leading scorer Dominic James on 4-of-12 shooting.