Each Thursday over the summer, The Juice Online has counted down the top 10 moments in the 2012-13 basketball season. We finish our countdown with No. 1, defeating Marquette to advance to the Final Four.
WHAT HAPPENED: Marquette has played Syracuse as members of the Big East each year since they joined the league in 2005. During that time, the Golden Eagles have seen the SU zone during the regular season, the Big East tournament, and even in the NCAA tournament in 2011.
“It’s always tough for us to play somebody from our league (in the NCAA tournament),’’ Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “Marquette knows what to do.”
None of that experience seemed to matter for Marquette in their Elite 8 matchup with Syracuse.
The Orange zone stifled, frustrated and baffled the Golden Eagles, holding them to a season low 39 points as Syracuse advanced to their fifth Final four in school history with a 55-39 win.
“We showed,” guard Brandon Triche said, “that defense wins games.”
They sure did.
The Orange held the Golden Eagles to just 7 points in the first 14 minutes of the game and to 22 percent shooting from the field. Marquette also shot 3 for 24 from downtown and had more turnovers (13) than field goals (12).
“It was a tremendous effort,” Boeheim said.
Michael Carter-Williams finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, six assists, five steals and only one turnover, and was named the East Regional’s Most Outstanding Player.
“He’s a great example to follow,” Triche said. “The energy and things like that — he makes me play harder on defense just seeing how active us, being able to get steals and things like that, it’s contagious.”
It completed quite a turnaround for the Orange.
Syracuse had lost four of five games to close the regular season, including a humiliating 61-39 loss to Georgetown in the season finale. No one thought that a month later, the Orange would be heading to Atlanta.
But after a rejuvenating run through the Big East tournament, the Orange catapulted themselves to the national semifinal.
“It’s been a great transformation in that period,” Boeheim said.
WHY IT’S NO. 1: In a career full of milestones, Jim Boeheim reached another plateau with the win. For the fourth straight decade, he coached a team to the Final Four joining an exclusive short list of coaches including Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski and Rick Pitino. “It’s hard to get here (playing for a Final Four slot), that’s all I can tell you,” Boeheim said. “There has been a couple of teams that we thought wouldn’t get here and they have. It’s much more difficult now in today’s world (field of 68) to get to this point.” And yet Boeheim is still found a way to do it once every 10 years.