Syracuse 53 - Michigan 50: Brick Friday

I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but...

1. Syracuse just played a basketball game in which they looked disturbingly rusty, off-kilter and shot the ball in a shockingly-poor way.

2. They won the game.

Syracuse shot 41% of the night and looked about as stymied on offense as they've looked in years and yet, much like the football team, their defense carried them to victory, 53-50 in the Legends Classic semifinals.

Syracuse made just 20 of its 48 field-goal attempts (41 percent), but the Orange’s 2-3 zone stymied the Wolverines. Syracuse held Michigan to 34 percent field-goal shooting, including 8-for-30 (26 percent) shooting from 3-point range.

Syracuse trailed 31-29 at halftime, but a 9-0 run early in the second half boosted the Orange to a 38-33 lead. Syracuse led 44-40 at the 10-minute mark but then went six minutes without scoring.

Thank God for Kris Joseph, who finally slid into the leader role on the floor and in the stat sheet. KJ scored 22, one-off his career high, and led the Orange by making 8-of-14 field goals.

"I was not overthinking, overanalyzing," Joseph said. "I am just more-so going out there within the team's structure and concept not forcing anything up there."

Still, Jim Boeheim was displeased with his O and continued to express his frustrations in the least sugar-coated way possible.

"Our real problem is not our defense,’’ Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "Our offense is not where we need it to be. We’re just struggling shooting the ball from the perimeter. I don’t think our execution is where it needs to be.’’

"Our offense was just horrible tonight,’’ Boeheim said.

The Orange have their defense to thank for bailing them out when they went ice-cold at multiple points in the game. The Wolverines could have easily taken advantage of the scoring drought and pulled away. Credit strong play by Rick Jackson for disrupting players like Tim Hardaway, Jr.

"I’ve never seen anybody so long play a 2-3 zone," Hardaway said. "And they’re so wide that they can touch their hands to each other, even though a guy is all the way out the corner. Especially with Jackson. I think they switched Jackson out on the perimeter on my side, instead of No. 32. That was the big part for me."

The good news is that the Orange are now 5-0 and played for the Legends Classic championship. They'll be lining up against Georgia Tech (4-1) on Sunday. GT topped UTEP 71-61 in the semis. The Jackets also feature the progeny of a former NBA star (Glen Rice, Jr.).

For the Orange, they might keep winning but sooner or later this act is going to catch up with them. Georgia Tech might not be a great team but they're good enough to catch Syracuse napping if they come in with another performance like tonight.  Keep an eye on From The Rumble Seat for Tech updates before Sunday.

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