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Top-seeded Indiana’s season comes to close with 61-50 loss to Syracuse

WASHINGTON DC - MARCH 28:  C.J. Fair #5 Syracuse Orange goes hoop against Cody Zeller #40 IndianHoosiers during East

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 28: C.J. Fair #5 of the Syracuse Orange goes to the hoop against Cody Zeller #40 of the Indiana Hoosiers during the East Regional Round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Verizon Center on March 28, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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Updated: March 29, 2013 12:28AM

WASHINGTON — The East ­Regional final Saturday will have a reunion story line.

But it won’t involve Indiana.

Syracuse’s 2-3 zone left the Hoosiers in a constant state of confusion in the first half. Indiana couldn’t climb out of the huge hole and lost to the Orange 61-50 on Thursday at the Verizon Center.

The top-seeded Hoosiers (29-7) committed 18 turnovers, and a year that started at the top of the preseason polls ended with a Sweet 16 exit for the second consecutive year.

An IU victory would’ve set up a matchup between Hoosiers coach Tom Crean and Marquette, his former team.

Instead, the victory by the fourth-seeded Orange (29-9) makes the game an All-Big East regional final.

Indiana didn’t look like the team that spent 10 weeks ranked No. 1 in the nation.

The Hoosiers’ first field goal came at 13:48, when guard Remy Abell got to the rim and made a layup. By that time, Indiana already was down 11-5.

Syracuse built a big lead by using its length and athleticism to cause turnovers.

Ten minutes into the game, the Hoosiers had more turnovers (nine) than points (five).

The Hoosiers had 12 turnovers in the half, which resulted in 14 points for the Orange.

When Indiana wasn’t handing the ball to Syracuse, it was missing shots.

The Hoosiers missed six of its first seven three-point attempts. Even free throws were a challenge. IU went 7-for-12 from the foul line (58.3 percent) in the first half.

While IU starting guards Jordan Hulls and Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell didn’t score in the half, Syracuse guards Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche punished the Hoosiers.

Carter-Williams scored 12 points in the first half and finished with 24. Triche had eight points in the half, 14 for the game.

C.J. Fair made a layup with 3:39 to go in the half to give the Orange a 29-11 lead. Syracuse was up 34-22 at the half.

Indiana tried to make a push after the break. The Hoosiers scored the first five points of the second half to cut the deficit to seven, 34-27. But they never got any closer.

Indiana heads to the offseason facing uncertainty with its roster. IU loses seniors Hulls, Christian Watford and Derek Elston. The three players helped IU go from 10 wins in the 2009-10 season to the program’s first outright Big Ten crown since 1993 this year.

IU also could lose Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo, who had a team-high 15 points.

Both have been projected as first-round picks in mock drafts.

Syracuse, meanwhile, advances to the Elite 8 for the second consecutive year.

The Orange will see a familiar face. Syracuse lost at Marquette 74-71 in the teams’ only meeting in the regular season.

Syracuse also got a small measure of postseason revenge against IU. This was the first time the teams had met in the tournament since the 1987 title game.

That was the last time the Hoosiers captured the title.

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