ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Jim Boeheim acted like the coach of a team mired in a losing skid. He stomped and screamed at his players after botched assignments, then lamented Syracuse's intermittent offense.
About the only reason he didn't slip into total misery is an undefeated start.
Kris Joseph scored 22 points and the Orange (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) held off hard-charging Michigan 53-50 on Friday night to advance to the Legends Classic championship game.
The Orange (5-0) will play Georgia Tech on Saturday night. The Yellow Jackets beat UTEP 71-61 in the first game.
"Everybody talks about schedules," said Boeheim, starting his 35th season as coach at his alma mater. "I'm glad ours isn't any harder or else we'd be 1-4."
Scoop Jardine bailed out the Orange with a late 3 and Rick Jackson was solid on both ends of the floor. Toss out Joseph's 22, and the rest of the Orange weren't good enough to give Boeheim any comfort. He benched hyped freshman Fab Melo the entire second half after an empty first -- not a shot, rebound or block from the 7-footer.
"We need him to be a good rebounder and defensive player and right now he's not able to do that," Boeheim said.
Melo was forced to watch the Orange eke out a victory against a Michigan team that came out ready to prove it could win against basketball's big boys.
The Wolverines led at halftime and put themselves in position late to pull off the upset after Stu Douglass' 3-pointer made it 45-44. They just couldn't finish what would have been a nice early season win and big-time confidence booster.
"You don't like to lose and this was certainly a game we could have won," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "At the same time, it was important to get measured against a team of this caliber."
The Wolverines wore down late in the game against Syracuse's zone and seemed flustered on several possessions. The Wolverines, who won only 15 games last season, couldn't finish off the upset.
Douglass sank a 3 and Michigan led 45-44 with 5:53 left. His basket actually put Orange fans on their feet -- they made up about 80 percent of the nearly 7,000 crowd -- to cheer on their team.
With chants of "Let's go Orange!" echoing throughout Boardwalk Hall, Jardine buried a 3 to make it 47-45. On the next possession, the Wolverines couldn't find an open look and were called for a shot clock violation.
Joseph took advantage of the turnover and sank a jumper that finally gave the Orange some breathing room.
It almost wasn't enough.
Tim Hardaway Jr. slipped inside and tossed up an off-balance shot that made it 51-48 going into a timeout. Boeheim stomped out to midcourt to yell at Jackson for letting Hardaway find a hole.
"Stupid," Boeheim said.
Jardine scored 11 points, and Jackson had 10 points and 12 rebounds for Syracuse.
"I just have to keep moving and take the right shots," Jardine said. "The thing we always do is play defense. Coach is going to design our offense for us and get us in spots to get good shots."
Jordan Morgan and Stu Douglass both scored 11 points for the Wolverines (3-1). Michigan shot only 29 percent from the floor in the second half.
Hardaway, who scored eight points, put his dad in a tough spot in Saturday's loser's bracket. Former NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway watched both games of the doubleheader in support of his son and his former school, UTEP.
"That is weird having my kid here and UTEP here," Hardaway said before Michigan tipped. "If they win and play together, I'm going to become neutral. I'm going to have some black on or some red on."
Instead, both were losers.
Joseph sparked the Orange hit a 3 during a 9-0 run early in the second half that rallied them to a 38-33 lead.
"The offense is going to be there," Joseph said. "Someone is going to step up at some point in the game. We're going to have to put it together."
Hardaway's 3 ended the run and he sent the game into a timeout with a thunderous dunk that pulled the Wolverines within two.
Michigan hit eight 3s in the first half and led 31-29.
"We have some guys out there right now with a lot of courage, sometimes too much courage," Beilein said.