“I watched them for a few minutes and it was really a good thing. I thought our practices were really good after that,” Boeheim said. “You can turn things around in this game.”
Since then, Syracuse has won seven of eight.
“When you bounce back like that, that says a lot about your kids, your team and your character,” Boeheim said. “This is a heck of a bounce back.”
And the secret to success? Defense, naturally.
“We got the right personnel for each key position,” C.J. Fair said. “We got big long guards, we got big long forwards that can cover ground and our centers do a good job holding down the inside.”
Because of that, Syracuse really needed only one run on offense in the second half, making five shots in a row during a spurt that gave it a 41-28 lead with 9½ minutes left.
Last season, Syracuse fell a victory short of the Final Four, losing to Ohio State in the round of eight.
“We wanted to get over the hump,” Southerland said. “That’s what I told the guys: We’ve still got two more to go.”
With President Barack Obama — a basketball fan who picked Indiana to win the title — and NFL Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins sitting in the crowd, Syracuse harassed Marquette into missing 14 of its first 15 tries from beyond the 3-point arc.
Marquette started 1 for 10 overall on field-goal tries, with Blue’s 3-pointer about 1½ minutes in the only make. He celebrated as though it came at the end of the game, not the outset, punching the air and tapping defender Triche on the back while heading to the other end of the court.
After Blue’s 3, Marquette missed its next seven shots. There would be other such stretches. Six misses in a row. Six misses in a row. Even nine in a row.