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Friday, March 29, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Syracuse 61, Indiana 50

By Kieran Darcy



What it means: Jim Boeheim finally got some revenge, 26 years later.

In their first NCAA tournament matchup since the 1987 national championship game, No. 4 seed Syracuse upset No. 1 seed Indiana, 61-50, in Washington, D.C., to advance to the East Regional final.

The Orange (29-9, 11-7 Big East), who lost four of their final five regular-season games, have gotten hot at the right time, and are one win away from the Final Four.

The Hoosiers (29-7, 14-4 Big Ten) won the Big Ten regular-season title outright for the first time since 1993. But this is a very disappointing finish for the preseason No. 1 team in the nation.

The turning point: Trailing 3-2 early, Syracuse scored nine straight -- capped off by a James Southerland trey -- to go up 11-3 less than six minutes into the game. The Orange's 2-3 zone had Indiana completely flustered for most of the first half. Syracuse took its largest lead, 29-11, on a C.J. Fair layup with 3:37 remaining in the half. The Hoosiers managed to cut the deficit to 12, 34-22, at intermission. Indiana committed 11 first-half turnovers.

Indiana scored the first five points of the second half to make it 34-27, prompting a quick Boeheim timeout. The Hoosiers got as close as six, 38-32, on a Victor Oladipo 3-pointer with 14:14 left. But Syracuse responded with six straight points to push the lead back to double digits, and led comfortably the rest of the game.

Star watch: Michael Carter-Williams was third in the country in assists in the regular season (7.7 APG). He only had one Thursday night -- yet he was the Syracuse hero nonetheless. How? The sophomore point guard pumped in a career-high 24 points, shooting 9-for-19 from the field, and 3-for-5 from downtown. He also had six rebounds and four steals.

Brandon Triche added 14 points, and C.J. Fair had 11 points and eight rebounds.

Oladipo scored a team-high 16 points for Indiana. Cody Zeller, the team's leading scorer, scored just 10, shooting 3-for-10 from the field.

Number crunch: Syracuse simply smothered Indiana with its 2-3 zone all night long. The Hoosiers entered the game ranked No. 3 in the country in scoring (79.5 PPG), No. 6 in offensive field goal percentage (48.6) and No. 3 in 3-point field goal percentage (40.8). On Thursday night, Indiana scored just 50 points, shooting 34 percent from the field (16-for-47) and 20 percent from beyond the arc (3-for-15).

And there's no excuse for how badly the Hoosiers shot at the foul line. Indiana, No. 25 in the country in free throw percentage (74.7), was 15-for-24 (62.5 percent) from the charity stripe.

Syracuse had 11 steals and 11 blocked shots -- a tremendous defensive performance.

What's next: It'll be an all-Big East regional final, played at a Big East venue -- the Verizon Center, home of the Georgetown Hoyas. Syracuse will play No. 3 seed Marquette on Saturday. The teams have played each other once this season, on Feb. 25 at Marquette, a 74-71 win by the Golden Eagles.