Rapid Reaction: Syracuse 52, Louisville 51
February, 13, 2012
By Brian Bennett | ESPN.com
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Quick thoughts from the Yum! Center, where No. 2 Syracuse survived on the road against No. 18 Louisville 52-51 on Monday night:
Overview: If you like high-scoring games and lots of easy baskets, this game was not for you. Points were like precious gems most of the night and neither team led by more than eight points. Both teams shot less than 35 percent for the game and bricked 3-pointers left and right. But Syracuse showed a lot of poise in finally getting over the hump against Louisville, which had beaten the Orange seven straight times dating back to 2006.
Turning point: Louisville reeled off a 15-2 run to go ahead by five points with fewer than four minutes left. Syracuse looked rattled during the run, especially when Kris Joseph dropped the ball out of bounds with no one around him. But the Orange chipped away at the lead on the strength of their defense, holding the Cardinals scoreless over the final 3:39. C.J. Fair's layup with just over two minutes left put Syracuse back ahead 52-51, and neither team would score again. Peyton Siva turned the ball over in the final six seconds while trying to create something off a drive, and Louisville couldn't get off a shot attempt after getting the ball back with 1.1 seconds left.
Star of the game: Fair was big off the bench for Jim Boeheim, scoring a team high 13 points and adding five rebounds. And his go-ahead basket was the last field goal of the game. Special mention goes to Louisville freshman Chane Behanan, who led all scorers with 16 points to go along with nine rebounds.
Stat of the game: Of Syracuse's 21 baskets, 18 were layups or dunks. The Orange were just 1-of-15 on 3-point shots, missing all six second-half attempts. According to ESPN Stats & Info, it was the program’s second-worst performance from long range in the past 15 years. But the Orange converted 9 of 11 free throws, while Louisville was just 12-of-21 from the foul line.
What the win means for Syracuse: The Orange (26-1, 13-1) tightened their grip on first place in the Big East by winning what looked like their toughest remaining regular-season game. They won't play another ranked team until the March 3 finale against these same Cardinals in the Carrier Dome, if Louisville hangs around the Top 25 that long. Despite the win, concerns about Syracuse's outside shooting and defensive rebounding remain as both areas were exposed on Monday.
What the loss means for Louisville: The Cardinals (20-6, 8-5) saw their six-game winning streak snapped and got a measuring stick as they played their first ranked team since a Jan. 16 loss at Marquette. They slide back into the middle of the pack in the Big East standings. Louisville remains limited offensively, especially when Siva -- who was saddled with early foul trouble and committed too many turnovers -- is not at his best.
Up next: Both teams go on the road this weekend but should be heavily favored, as Louisville heads to DePaul on Saturday and Syracuse visits Rutgers on Sunday.