Friday, March 29, 2013 1:08 am
Hoosiers fall to Syracuse 61-50 in NCAA tourney
By DAVID GINSBURGAP Sports Writer
Top-seed Indiana had no answer for the 2-3 zone of Syracuse, and now the Hoosiers are heading home after a 61-50 loss Thursday night bounced them from the NCAA tournament.
The Hoosiers (29-7) played against many strong defensive teams in Big Ten - none of which hounded them as well as Syracuse.
"Let's face facts. We haven't seen a zone like that," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "They're very good. They're where they're at for a reason."
Syracuse (29-9) is in the round of eight because the Hoosiers made only seven field goals in the decisive first half, went 3 for 15 overall from beyond the arc and had 10 of their shots blocked.
Syracuse had 12 steals, which was more than enough to offset a 16-point performance by Indiana's Victor Oladipo.
"The story of the game for us is we didn't take care of the ball well enough," Crean said. "We gave them too many opportunities."
Indiana made a run in the second half, cutting what was once an 18-point deficit to 38-32 on a 3-pointer by Oladipo with 14:11 remaining. Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams then sandwiched two layups around a pair of free throws by his teammate to boost the margin back to double digits, and the Hoosiers never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.
"We just could never get over the hump," Crean said. "We got it cut down but we could never get that gap, that margin, where we needed it to be."
Oladipo, who went 5 for 6, was the only Indiana player to make more than half his shots. Guard Jordan Hulls was 0 for 6, Will Sheehey 3 for 9 and forward Cody Zeller missed eight of 11 tries, many of which were swatted away.
It was a disappointing ending to an otherwise outstanding season. The Hoosiers finished No. 4 in the final AP Top 25 poll and held the top spot for 10 weeks. Indiana also won the Big Ten regular season title.
Those accomplishments meant nothing against a Syracuse team that got 24 points from Michael Carter-Williams and 14 from Brandon Triche.
"They played well and they deserve it. We didn't play as well but we played extremely hard," Crean said. "They move on and we call it a great year."
Oladipo said of the Orangemen, who will next face Marquette: "They were just long and active. We just didn't take care of the ball the way we should have."
Indiana forward Christian Watford had 13 points on 4-for-11 shooting along with a team-high five turnovers in his final college game.
"There have been ups and downs, but I wouldn't trade it for the world," he said. "I love my teammates and I'm happy to be an Indiana Hoosier."
The Hoosiers had more turnovers (12) than field goals (7) during a horrid first half in which they trailed by 18 points and needed a late surge to get to 34-22 at the break. It was the first time Indiana faced a halftime deficit of more than three points.
"In the first half we were a little bit too anxious, not having the ball secure in our hands, and our shots weren't falling at the same time," Oladipo said.
The cool-shooting Hoosiers had only five points with 10 minutes elapsed and were down 29-11 with 3:39 left before intermission.