SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - All that extra NCAA tournament experience that Rakeem Christmas, James Southerland and Baye Moussa Keita got a year ago when Fab Melo was suspended for Syracuse could pay dividends this year for the Orange.
With that tournament tested trio joining NCAA veterans like Brandon Triche and C.J. Fair, the fourth-seeded Orange (26-9) head into Thursday's second round game in San Jose against No. 13 seed Montana (25-6) with plenty of postseason experience.
Melo was ruled ineligible last year just before the start of the tournament, forcing coach Jim Boeheim's top-seeded squad to scramble to replace the star center. Christmas, Southerland and Keita all saw their roles grow in Melo's absence and made key contributions in Syracuse's tournament run that ended with a regional final loss to Ohio State.