ATLANTA (AP) — Jim Boeheim sat on a stool most of the night, hand propped against his chin, looking more like a man proctoring a math exam than one coaching a basketball game.
Not much a coach can do when his best shooters can't find the basket.
The Syracuse coach had only two points less than his best player, Michael Carter-Williams, and only five fewer than his most dangerous shooter, James Southerland.
Two players who accounted for 25 points a game this season combined for three measly buckets Saturday night. That was easily the difference in a 61-56 semifinal loss to Michigan.
“Our offense was not good in the first half or the second half,” Boeheim said. “Second half, we got our defense going a lot better, and got back in the game in spite of our offense.”
But that offense wasn't much to talk about in either half, especially as far as two of the most important cogs were concerned.
So nice a job did Michigan do on Southerland that, trailing by three with 17.9 seconds to go, Boeheim couldn't draw up a play to get the ball to him. Instead, Trevor Cooney drove hard to the basket. He missed and Syracuse never got a chance at the tying shot.
“We were trying to get James, they switched it and Trevor had no choice,” Boeheim said. “He did the best he could in that situation.”
As for Carter-Williams, well, he wasn't even an option by that point. He fouled out with 1:14 left, giving a big tug on his jersey while walking to the bench after a 1-for-6 night that included two assists and five turnovers.
“You'd love to have him out there,” Boeheim said. “You want to go to the basket in that situation, and make a play going there, but we're not making a lot of shots, so we're not going to try to throw something up.”
Another Syracuse scorer, C.J. Fair, carried almost the entire load with 22 points, but with few other options, and without balls going in the basket, Syracuse wasn't able to set up its suffocating 2-3 zone as efficiently and frequently as it wanted.
That left Boeheim with very little to do other than watch the ugliness unfold.
Carter-Williams, a projected first-round NBA draft pick in a few months, made his only basket on a layup late in the first half.