Entering Wednesday night’s game against Louisville, Syracuse’s 17-8 record was already full of big moments that had the Orange positioned well for an NCAA Tournament bid. Now, with a 69-49 domination of the Cardinals, SU takes one step closer to securing a March Madness spot while also setting the tone to start off one of the toughest final stretches of the regular season in the country.
Syracuse opened the game on full throttle, attempting three three-point shots on its first three attempts. Oshae Brissett opened scoring on the third three attempt from the left corner.
8:34 into the game, Syracuse led just 9-8 and then tacked on two free throws. The Orange shot 8-9 on free throws in the first half.
Past the midway mark of the first half as part of a string of plays that had Syracuse on the receiving end of turnovers and offensive and defensive rebounds, Buddy Boeheim hit a three, had a steal and hit a jumper to give Syracuse a spark.
The game became streaky right before the half as Louisville went scoreless for 4:52, and then Syracuse went scoreless for 2:00. Both scoreless streaks ended on free throws.
The Cardinals shot 1-13 in three pointers in the first half, going 6-26 (23.1 percent) from the floor. They ended the game 6-28 from three and 14-54 total.
Syracuse led 35-23 at halftime and came out strong to start the second half.
Feeling the pressure of being behind late, Louisville put the press on SU as the game approached 13:00 left.
Despite the defensive shift, the Orange went on a 12-1 run to increase their lead.
With just over 7:00 left in the game, Syracuse showed a shift in gear, with Boeheim and Elijah Hughes hitting threes as the SU defense continued to get rebounds. Then the Orange began to slow the game down and solidify the win.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Syracuse had a sequence of plays just more than halfway through the first half that gave the offense the spark and the lead for the rest of the game:
- Syracuse defensive rebound
- Buddy Boeheim hits a three
- Boeheim steals the ball
- Louisville turns the ball over
- Brissett misses a shot
- Dolezaj gets the rebound
- Boeheim hits a jumper for two
- Louisville misses a three
- Dolezaj gets another defensive rebound
- Hughes hits a three
- Louisville calls a timeout
In the second half, a similar sequence played out where Boeheim and Hughes hit threes as the SU defense and offense continued to rebound. With a little more than seven minutes of play remaining, the game shifted as it seemed Syracuse was getting too far out of reach for a Cardinals comeback. SU then began to slow the game down.
WHERE SYRACUSE STOOD OUT
Syracuse had four players score in double digits. Hughes led the team with 18 points, Brissett had 16, Boeheim had 14 and Battle had 11.
Both Brissett and Battle—who so often after games say this Syracuse team is so great because any player can step it up and carry the team—both said that SU moves the ball well and is able to beat anybody in games like this where everyone is locked in.
WHAT ABOUT LOUISVILLE
Where was the Cardinals three point shooting? Coach Boeheim said Louisville missed some shots that they would usually make in addition to the SU defense playing well, but going 6-28 from beyond the arc is not going to keep you in games, especially as Syracuse continued to make threes. At halftime, the Cardinals were shooting less than 10 percent from three. Some nights, the rim might look smaller than others, but tonight, the Cardinals just flat out missed, shooting at least two air balls along the way.
BY THE NUMBERS
4 — the number of Syracuse players that scored in double digits
8-7 — Louisville’s last lead in the game over Syracuse
16 — Syracuse points off turnovers (compared to Louisville’s 5)
22 — Syracuse points off the bench
24 — Syracuse’s largest lead in the game
25.9 — percent Louisville shot from the floor
HE SAID IT
“They’re just different. They’re a great team, and you saw it tonight.” ~Louisville Head Coach Chris Mack
Syracuse gears up for Saturday evening when the Orange play Duke in the Carrier Dome at 6:00 p.m.
This game is expected to break Syracuse’s own record for the largest on-campus crowd for a basketball game in NCAA history with some 36,000 fans in attendance.
The SU players said they are pretty poised about the game.
Coach Boeheim’s only comment about it: “It’ll be noisy.”
Published: David Edelstein