ATLANTA (AP) —
Michigan won this game in the opening 20 minutes, doing exactly what it needed to do against Syracuse’s suffocating 2-3 zone: knock down open 3s, crash the boards, and work the ball inside and out with rapid-fire passes.
“I thought we got off to a really bad start defensively in the first half,” Boeheim said. “We just didn’t have the movement that we’ve had, and Michigan took advantage of it. Our offense was not good in the first half or the second half. Second half, we got our defense going a lot better, and got back in the game in spite of our offense.”
When Syracuse started extending its perimeter defense, looking to cut off the long-range shots, Michigan created an open look late in the half with a nifty bit of ball movement. Glenn Robinson III took a pass, whipped it ball to LeVert, who dribbled a couple of times and fed the ball back to Robinson for an open 15-footer.
Nothing but net.
The Wolverines began to pull away from Syracuse even though Burke was struggling. He finally scored his first points with just under a minute remaining in the first half, swishing a 3 from nearly the same spot on the court where he made the long shot that stunned top-seeded Kansas.
It would be Burke’s only basket of the night.
“We shot well from 3, and I mean deep,” Beilein said coming off the court at halftime. “It’s tough to penetrate against them. We had some success, but we made some really good shots.”
Even though Hardaway missed a trey just before the buzzer sounded, Michigan sprinted off the court with a commanding 36-25 lead. Syracuse didn’t have enough offensive firepower to come all the way back, shooting just 42 percent (23 of 55).
C.J. Fair scored 22 points, doing his best to rally the Orange all by himself. But Triche, with 11 points, was the only other Syracuse player in double figures.