He seemed like the perfect man to go to on Syracuse's last possession, but never saw the ball, as Cooney, a freshman, drove wildly to the hoop and missed.
Syracuse's first trip to the Final Four since its 2003 championship led by Carmelo Anthony ended with a very un-Melo-like thud.
“It's hard to see it.” Boeheim said. “I told them, they should feel bad, because they could have won this game, but what they've accomplished is, I think, incredible this year.”
Instead of taking part in the ultimate send-off for the Big East Conference, which is reconfiguring after this season, the Orange goes home and it's Michigan playing Louisville for the title Monday.
The Wolverines man-to-man defense much more damage to Syracuse's offense than Syracuse's zone did to theirs.
Syracuse (30-10) shot a respectable 41 percent, but Southerland and Carter-Williams only made 20 percent.
While most teams need defense to help produce offense, Syracuse is one of those rare teams that turns that equation on its head.
The Orange needs offense to produce defense. Without it, long rebounds turned into easy transition points for Michigan. While holding Trey Burke to seven points, Syracuse never found an answer for the Wolverines big man, Mitch McGary (12 points, 10 rebounds, six assists). Michigan made six 3-pointers in the first half. The Orange allowed 36 points over the first 20 minutes — only three fewer than they gave up to Marquette in the regional final — and fell behind by 11.
“We just became more active” in the second half, said Syracuse guard Brandon Triche, who mans the top of the Orange zone. “For me, I was kind of stagnant in the first half, and probably got three or four 3-pointers hit on my side. In the second half, I tried to make sure that didn't happen.”
Things did, indeed, get better over the second 20 minutes, but it was too big a hole to climb out of.