Syracuse takes out Indiana

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WASHINGTON — It took winning a national title for Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim to get over a late-shot loss to Indiana the last time the schools played in the NCAA Tournament.

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Syracuse's C.J. Fair puts up a shot against Indiana's Christian Watford (left) and Yogi Ferrell during the first half of the Orange's 61-50 win in the East Regional semifials.  ALEX BRANDON/ASSOCIATED PRESS
ALEX BRANDON/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Syracuse's C.J. Fair puts up a shot against Indiana's Christian Watford (left) and Yogi Ferrell during the first half of the Orange's 61-50 win in the East Regional semifials.

This meeting, 26 years later, was never close enough to come down to the final seconds, thanks mostly to Boeheim's trademark 2-3 zone defense. Now he has the Orange one victory from getting back to the Final Four.

Limiting Indiana to its lowest output of the season while forcing 19 turnovers and blocking 10 shots, fourth-seeded Syracuse used Michael Carter-Williams' 24 points to upset the No. 1 seed Hoosiers 61-50 Thursday night and reach the East Regional final.

"Our perimeter defense was tremendous," Boeheim said, his arms crossed across his purple tie, the way he stood for much of the lopsided game. "This is one of our best defensive teams ever. They play it well."

The last time these two schools faced off in the NCAA Tournament, Indiana won on a late shot — and it took winning a national title for Boeheim to get over it. This meeting, 26 years later, was never close enough to come down to the final seconds.

After getting past preseason No. 1 Indiana, Syracuse (29-9) will face No. 3 seed Marquette on Saturday night in an all-Big East matchup, assuring the soon-to-be-reconfigured conference a berth in the Final Four.

Boeheim and the Orange haven't been to the national semifinals since Carmelo Anthony led them to the 2003 championship.

Marquette beat No. 2 seed Miami 71-61 in Thursday's first game in Washington.

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

"We're much better when we play teams that don't know us," Boeheim said. "Marquette knows us. They know how to play against us, so it will be very difficult."

Less than a half-minute into Thursday'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's come to be known — Keith Smart's baseline jumper in the final seconds that lifted Bob Knight's Hoosiers past Boeheim's Orange 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. Boeheim entered Thursday with 50 wins in the tournament, fourth-most in history, and more than 900 victories overall, with so much of that success built on his unusual zone defense, 40 minutes of a puzzle for opponents to try and solve.

 Indiana (29-7), like most teams outside the Big East, isn't used to seeing that sort of thing, and it showed right from the outset. Didn't matter that  Indiana anked third in the country this season in scoring, putting up 79.5 points per game — and never fewer than 56 — while making 48.6 percent of its shots.

"Not too many teams are used to our zone," said Brandon Triche, who scored 14 points Thursday and whose uncle, Howard, was on Boeheim's 1987 squad. "That's what we play. Other teams that play zone, they (also) play man, they switch up defenses. But our main (thing) is zone. ... We're very long, and we're very active, and when we're active like we were today, we're hard to score on."

The Orange held  Indiana to 33 percent shooting and frustrated the Hoosiers — from the players down to the coach, Tom Crean.

"Let's face facts. We haven't seen a zone like that," Crean said. "They're very good. They're where they're at for a reason."

Cody Zeller was held to 10 points on 3 of 11 shooting. Victor Oladipo scored 16 for Indiana, none easily.

"Credit them," Oladipo said. "They did a great job with their zone. They're well-coached."

WEST REGIONAL

OHIO STATE 73, ARIZONA 70

In Los Angeles, Ohio State needed another last-second shot, and Aaron Craft had the ball at the top of the key again.

But last week's hero gave it up to the hottest hand on the floor, and LaQuinton Ross sent the Buckeyes to the brink of their second straight Final Four.

Ross hit the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 2 seconds to play, and Ohio State advanced to the West Regional final with a 73-70 victory over Arizona on Thursday night.

Ross, Ohio State's remarkable reserve, scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half for the second-seeded Buckeyes (29-7), who rallied from an early 11-point deficit. With Ross making a series of tough shots capped by that dramatic 3, Ohio State weathered the sixth-seeded Wildcats' late charge for its 11th consecutive victory since mid-February.

"It feels great, man," said Ross, a once-ballyhooed recruit who has grown into a bigger role in the past two months. "I think this is what every player grows up looking at on TV, wanting to hit that big shot for an NCAA Tournament team. It just feels great right now."

Deshaun Thomas scored 20 points for Ohio State, and Craft added 13 before ceding Ohio State's final shot to Ross when the Wildcats didn't make the proper switch on the Buckeyes' screen. Ross coolly drilled his second 3-pointer and set off a wild celebration in the Ohio State section of the Arizona-dominated crowd.

Craft hit a similar 3-pointer against Iowa State last Sunday to send the Buckeyes forward with a 78-75 victory, but Ross didn't flinch at his turn under pressure in this increasingly magical Ohio State season.

"LaQuinton has really grown in a lot of areas," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "I think the biggest thing he's done is he's engaged himself in all the little things, and that's made him a better basketball player. We're proud of him."

Arizona couldn't get off a shot on its last-second inbounds heave, and Mark Lyons greeted Ross in the postgame handshakes with a joking "I can't stand you!"

Lyons' acrobatic three-point play for the Wildcats (27-8) had tied it with 21.8 seconds left, thanks to a foul by Ross. But Ross knew he might be in for a special moment when he was assigned Kobe Bryant's stall in the Lakers' locker room at Staples Center — and he nailed a shot that would have made the NBA star proud.

"It was similar to the play we ran last game," Ross said. "We like to get the (big men) on a pick-and-roll. It so happened they messed up the switch there, and I was able to knock down the shot."

Lyons scored 23 points including his gutsy three-point play for Arizona, which rallied from a 10-point deficit in the second half before falling just short of their second NCAA regional final in four years. Solomon Hill added 16 points in his native Los Angeles, but the rest of Arizona combined for just 31 points on 10 for 29 shooting.

WICHITA STATE 72, LA SALLE 58

In Los Angeles, Wichita State (29-8) went from sweet to elite, beating La Salle (24-10) to reach the final eight of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 32 years.

Too big, too physical, too quick.

Wichita State State overwhelmed the Explorers with a 14-2 run to open the game that had La Salle playing catch-up the rest of the way. The Explorers trailed by 22 points early in the second half and by 20 late.

"It took us a half to kind of adjust to the level they were playing at," La Salle coach John Giannini said. "The second half was pretty evenly played, but we were in just too deep of a hole."

Malcolm Armstead scored 18 points, Carl Hall added 16 and freshman Ron Baker had 13 for the ninth-seeded Shockers, who proved their upset of No. 1 seed Gonzaga in the third round was no fluke. They never trailed in this matchup of small schools whose past NCAA Tournament success was long buried in the history books.

"It's like I'm in a dream still with this whole Elite Eight situation," Hall said. "I still can't believe it, but anything is possible when you play defense and you're peaking at the right time."

The Shockers advanced to Saturday's West Regional final against No. 2 seed Ohio State, a 73-70 winner over Arizona in the first semifinal at Staples Center. Their yellow-clad fans, several waving handmade signs, made up most of the small crowd that stuck around to see the end.

Wichita State tied the school's 2010-11 team for most victories. That group won the NIT title. These Shockers have designs on next matching what the 1965 team did — reaching the Final Four.

"We need one more win to seal this deal and go back home and get ready for the Final Four," Baker said. "We're just going to grab this opportunity the best we can."

La Salle briefly fought back in the second half — getting within 11 points — but the Shockers made sure the history of No. 13 seeds never making the final eight remained intact.


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