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Michigan 68, Syracuse 65

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A 3-pointer from Spike Albrecht with 26.7 seconds to play and a pair of free-throws from Caris LeVert with 4.5 left remaining helped the 17th-ranked Michigan Wolverines squeak out a 68-65 victory Tuesday over the Syracuse Orange at the Crisler Center.

In addition to scoring 12 points, LeVert, a guard, had six assists and two rebounds as Wolverines coach John Beilein notched his second win over Orange coach Jim Boeheim. The two last met in the 2013 Final Four, which Michigan won 61-56.

Albrecht, a guard, finished with 11 points and nine assists — his passing game was highlighted by a well-executed pass to forward Ricky Doyle, who also helped in the final minutes with a key layup. Guard Zak Irvin scored a game-high 18 points, highlighted by 4-for-11 shooting from 3-point range and three dunks.

Guard Trevor Cooney led Syracuse with 16 points. Center Rakeem Christmas contributed with 15 points, six rebounds and two blocks — but he also had six turnovers. Forward Chris McCullough clocked out with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

At one point, the Wolverines led 58-48 but turnovers and poor defense allowed the Orange to stick around. Cooney’s bucket with just under three minutes to play cut the deficit to 61-57, but Beilein promptly called a timeout to regroup and pull out an ACC/Big Ten Challenge win over an elite program.

Syracuse scored the first five points, Michigan scored the next seven, and neither team led by more than three the rest of the half. The game was tied 9-9 nearly midway through the half, at which point the Wolverines were 1-for-7 on 3-point attempts.

Michigan wound up 3-for-17 (17.6 percent) from long range before halftime.

With 16.7 seconds to play before the break and Michigan up by one, Christmas was fouled during a successful layup attempt. He sank his free-throw attempt, giving Syracuse a 31-29 advantage that it took to the locker room.

Christmas led the Orange with 11 first-half points. Irvin topped the Wolverines with 12 points before halftime.

NOTES: Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is second among active Division I coaches with 953 wins. … Prior to Nov. 24, the Orange were ranked in the top 25 for 80 consecutive weeks. … Michigan G Derrick Walton played despite a sprained toe on his left foot. Beilein listed Walton as day-to-day on Monday. … The Wolverines host New Jersey Institute of Technology at noon (ET) Saturday. The Orange host St. John’s at 5:15 p.m. at the Carrier Dome.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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