No. 17 Michigan edges Syracuse 68-65
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Spike Albrecht found enough room against the Syracuse zone for one more 3-pointer, and when it rattled in with about a half-minute remaining, Michigan had regained the edge.
''All night, we were really just trying to get two feet in the paint and Derrick (Walton) did a great job getting into the paint and ended up drawing the defense in,'' Albrecht said. ''He made a great kickout and fortunately I was able to knock it down.''
Albrecht's shot with 31 seconds remaining put Michigan ahead, and the 17th-ranked Wolverines held on to beat Syracuse 68-65 on Tuesday night. The ACC-Big Ten Challenge matchup was the first meeting between these teams since Michigan won an NCAA semifinal in 2013.
Albrecht's 3-pointer broke a 63-63 tie after Syracuse (5-2) had rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit. Michigan led 66-65 after Michael Gbinije scored inside for the Orange, and Walton missed the front end of a one-and-one for the Wolverines. But Syracuse freshman Chris McCullough threw the ball out of bounds with 15 seconds remaining.
Caris LeVert missed the front end of another one-and-one, but the Orange turned the ball over again. This time it was Kaleb Joseph - another freshman - who lost the ball in the frontcourt.
''They're painful lessons that you have to learn sometimes, but I thought we made a great effort,'' Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. ''We've got some young guys.''
LeVert made two free throws to put Michigan (6-1) back up by three, and Joseph came up short on a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Zak Irvin scored 18 points for Michigan, which finished 11 of 33 from 3-point range after going 3 of 17 in the first half. Walton returned from a toe injury and played 26 minutes, but it was Albrecht who made the big plays in the second half. He finished with 11 points and nine assists.
LeVert and Ricky Doyle scored 12 points each.
Trevor Cooney scored 16 points for Syracuse, and Rakeem Christmas added 15.
The Wolverines trailed 31-29 at halftime, but they went ahead 37-36 on a three-point play by Doyle. The Michigan big man dunked while being fouled after a behind-the-back pass by Albrecht.
''It was kind of just instinctive - I usually don't do the behind-the-backs and all that,'' Albrecht said. ''Luckily it worked out.''
It was 55-48 after Doyle dunked off another pass from Albrecht. Then Irvin made a 3-pointer to push the lead to 10.
Syracuse: The Orange went 0 for 14 from 3-point range in their previous game, but they improved to 6 of 17 on Tuesday. Cooney connected four times from long range. Syracuse had 19 turnovers.
Michigan: The Wolverines had 17 offensive rebounds, which helped them overcome a shooting performance that was under 40 percent.
SOLVING THE ZONE
The Wolverines played well offensively in stretches, but this was not an easy game for them. The 5-foot-11 Albrecht was a catalyst, repeatedly making the right passes while playing 27 minutes without a turnover.
''Spike is really good attacking zones,'' Michigan coach John Beilein said. ''He sees behind the zone, he makes that entry pass into the dot area - into the high post area - better than anybody, so that's why we had him out there so much.''
Aside from the turnovers and the botched chances at the end, Boeheim was pleased with his team's effort on the road. This was Syracuse's first trip outside the state of New York.
Cooney was 1 of 9 from 3-point range over his previous two games, but he went 4 of 9 against Michigan.
''He brought us back in the game. He was getting everyone excited,'' Christmas said. ''It was great having him back making all those 3s. He does that in practice, he can do it in a game.''
Syracuse hosts St. John's on Saturday.
Michigan hosts NJIT on Saturday.