PITTSBURGH – Syracuse was missing its starting center. North Carolina-Asheville thought the Orange got help from the men in striped shirts.

With top-ranked Syracuse facing the kind of NCAA tournament history no team wants to make, it rallied for a 72-65 victory Thursday in the East Regional.

Two calls by the officials had a sellout crowd of 18,927 — except for those wearing orange — booing throughout the final minute.

Syracuse made it 109-0 for No. 1 seeds against No. 16s since the NCAA went to a field of 64 in 1985.

“I don’t think luck had anything to do with this game today,” Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim said, “and I think the better team won.”

The Orange were staring at NCAA tournament history. A No. 1 seed never has lost to a No. 16 seed, and they were trailing with just over six minutes to play.

“We gave it everything we had. We battled the best that we could,” Asheville Coach Eddie Biedenbach said. “These guys are great. They deserved a better fate than they had today.”

The Orange held Asheville to one field goal over the final minute while going 6 of 7 from the free-throw line.

Syracuse was playing without 7-foot center Fab Melo, who was declared ineligible for academic reasons by the school.

Syracuse (32-2) will play eighth-seeded Kansas State on Saturday.

The Bulldogs (24-10), who talked Wednesday about pulling off the upset, were led by J.P. Primm’s 18 points.

Asheville was within three, three times in the last 1:04.

The first call that caused the crowd to react was a lane violation with 1:20 left. Jardine missed the front end of a 1-and-1 but Primm was called for passing the head of the key before Jardine let the shot go. Jardine got to shoot the front end again, made it, and made the second for a 64-58 lead.

With 35 seconds left and the Orange leading 66-63, the ball appeared to go out of bounds off Syracuse’s Brandon Triche but the officials gave it to the Orange. Jardine then hit two free throws.

“The out of bounds is not reviewable and it is not a play we would discuss,” official Ed Corbett told a pool reporter.