Syracuse 61, Indiana 50: Zone baffles Hoosiers

By Howard Fendrich
ASSOCIATED PRESS  • 
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Mark Gail | McClatchy-Tribune
Syracuse guard Brandon Triche takes the ball to the basket past Indiana forward Cody Zeller in the second half.

WASHINGTON — With its 2-3 zone defense disruptive from start to finish and Michael Carter-Williams pouring in 24 points, fourth-seeded Syracuse upset No. 1 seed Indiana 61-50 last night to reach the NCAA Tournament’s East Regional final.

Syracuse limited Indiana to its lowest point total of the season, forced 19 turnovers, blocked 10 shots and held the normally efficient Hoosiers to 33 percent shooting.

Syracuse (29-9) will face third-seeded Marquette on Saturday night in an all-Big East matchup for a spot in the Final Four. Coach Jim Boeheim and the Orange haven’t been to the national semifinals since Carmelo Anthony led it to the 2003 title.

Syracuse, which is leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference this summer, lost at Marquette 74-71 during the regular season on Feb. 25.

Less than a half-minute into last night’s game, as Indiana star Victor Oladipo headed to the free-throw line, the arena’s overhead scoreboard showed a replay of “The Shot,” as it has come to be known — Keith Smart’s baseline jumper in the final seconds that lifted Bob Knight’s Hoosiers past Boeheim’s then-Orangemen in the 1987 national title game.

Boeheim said he wasn’t able to put that behind him until 16 years later, when he got his title. He has 51 wins in NCAA Tournaments, fourth-most in history, and more than 900 victories overall, and so much of that success has been built thanks to his unusual zone defense.

Indiana, like most teams outside the Big East, isn’t used to seeing that sort of thing, and it showed right from the outset. It didn’t matter that Indiana ranked third in the country in scoring, putting up 79.5 points per game — and never fewer than 56 — while making 48.6 percent of its shots.

The Orange simply frustrated the Hoosiers. Cody Zeller was held to 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting. Oladipo scored 16 points — none easily.

The Hoosiers needed more than 10 minutes to record their second field goal, and they didn’t crack double figures in points until Zeller’s tip-in with 14 minutes elapsed made it 22-11.

Even with no one guarding them, the Hoosiers couldn’t put the ball in the basket, failing to make their free throws. They started 3 of 8, and it all helped Syracuse build an 18-point edge, 29-11, with about 31/2  minutes left in the first half.

Brandon Triche scored 14 points and C.J. Fair had 11 for Syracuse, which led 34-22 at halftime and was never seriously challenged in the second half.

Oladipo’s three-pointer made it a six-point game, 38-32, with 14 minutes left. That’s when Carter-Williams really took over, scoring 10 points during a 14-5 run that put the Orange up 52-37 with nine minutes to go.

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