New Orleans Hakim Warrick played 31 minutes yet scored only six points Monday night for NCAA champion Syracuse.
Nevertheless, Warrick may have contributed the most pivotal play in the Orangemen's 81-78 victory over Kansas University at the Superdome.
With Kansas needing a three-point goal to tie and less than two seconds showing on the game clock, Kirk Hinrich passed to Michael Lee, who appeared to be open. But as Lee launched, the 6-foot-8 Warrick seemed to come out of nowhere and block Lee's potential tying goal out of bounds.
"I saw someone wide-open in the corner," Warrick said, "and I just tried to go out and make a play."
Later, Hinrich would have a virtually hopeless attempt at the buzzer because the Jayhawks didn't have enough time to set up a shot after Warrick's stuff.
"It's unbelievable," Warrick said. "It's still sinking in. We came into the season not ranked, and to go from not being ranked to the No. 1 team in the nation speaks for itself."
Tourney MVP Carmelo Anthony led Syracuse with 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in what may have been his last game as a collegian.
"I've never had a feeling like this," said Anthony, who is expected to declare soon for the NBA Draft. "Hakim kept his head and made a big play when it counted. I knew Hinrich's shot wasn't going in at the buzzer because he was fading away."
Syracuse nearly faded away in the second half following a 53-point first-half explosion fueled by 10 three-pointers, six by freshman Gerry McNamara.
"I just got off early," McNamara said. "I got the looks in the first half, and the guys carried us off in the second half."
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McNamara didn't score a point in the second half.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim earned his first NCAA title in 27 years at the New York school.
"I thought Kansas showed just how great a program they have, how great a team they have," Boeheim said, "and how great a coach they have because I think anybody else would have been done the way we shot the ball in the first half."
Boeheim used Anthony for 37 minutes, and the freshman wasn't sharp down the stretch.
"Carmelo, I think, ran out of gas," Boeheim said, "but I thought really the key was, Carmelo is hard to guard. He got (Keith) Langford in foul trouble and Langford was killing us on offense."