MEMPHIS — The most surprised person in the FedExForum on Friday night must have been Jim Boeheim.
In his team’s 84-71 NCAA South third-round loss to Oklahoma, the Syracuse coach expected all sorts of trouble from the Sooners’ Blake Griffin, Willie Warren and Austin Johnson.
But the guy who really shot holes in Boeheim’s usually reliable 2-3 zone defense was OU wingman Tony Crocker, who poured in 28 points and canned six 3-pointers.
At halftime, when the game essentially was over, Crocker had 14. Not bad for a guy who had scored all of eight points in the two previous NCAA games and had not been in double digits since rustling up 14 points against Texas on Fed. 21.
“We didn’t do a good job on Crocker, obviously,” Boeheim said.
Obviously. While Crocker was going off beyond the arc, Syracuse missed all 10 of its 3-point attempts in the first half.
Sooner coach Jeff Capel was less surprised by Crocker’s outburst.
“I just had a feeling he was ready to have a good game,” Capel said. “Tony’s a good shooter who’s been off for a few games and has looked more to help us win games in other ways than with his shot. But he can shoot, and we never lost confidence in him.”
In some ways, Crocker has gone through a shooting slump similar to that of North Carolina’s Danny Green. But in the Tar Heels’ 98-77 win over Gonzaga, Green converted his first 3-point of the game and finished with 13 points and three 3s.
In Sunday’s regional title game (5:05 p.m. Eastern), Green likely will have the defensive assignment on Crocker. -- J.P. Giglio