The Hoosiers couldn't solve Jim Boeheim's trademark zone defense as the Orange prevailed, 61-50.
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 faced off in the NCAA tournament.
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 compiling 10 blocks, fourth-seeded Syracuse used Michael Carter-Williams’ 24 points to upset the No. 1 seed Hoosiers 61-50 Thursday night to reach the East Regional final.
“Our perimeter defense was tremendous,” Boeheim said. “This is one of our best defensive teams ever. They play it well.”
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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 for 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 title.
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.
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, and so much of that success has been built thanks to his unusual zone defense, 40 minutes of a puzzle for opponents to try and solve.
Indiana, like most teams outside the Big East, isn’t used to seeing that sort of thing, and it showed. Didn’t matter that Indiana ranked third in the country this season in scoring (79.5 points per game) while shooting 48.6 percent.
But 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.”
At one point early on, Crean scanned a sheet of notes, then shoved it into his jacket’s inside pocket.
No help there.
The Hoosiers needed more than 10 minutes of action to record their second field goal, and they didn’t crack double figures until Zeller’s tip-in 14 minutes in made it 22-11.
Syracuse took a 34-22 lead into halftime and took control for good with a 14-5 run that gave the Orange a 52-37 lead with 9 minutes remaining.