A war is the best way to describe this game. It was a battle of Big East rivals. It was a battle of the #18 and #2 nationally ranked teams. It was a matchup of elite storied programs and legendary coaches and it lived up to all the billing and then some.
Syracuse came into the game with a 26-1 overall record and 13-1 in the Big East, but Louisville came into the game having beat Syracuse the last 7 times these two teams met. It had all the buildup of a heavyweight fight. It looked like a slug-fest from the opening tap. “You can either give the defenses credit or say it was a bad offensive game,” Boeheim told ESPN. “We’re going to look on the bright side and say it was a real defensive struggle tonight.”
It’s a good thing Boeheim is such a glass-is-half-full sort of guy because analyzing numbers like 34% from the field on 21-61 shooting for the Orangemen is brutal. Syracuse’s leaders Jardine and Joseph were incapable of making shots. Jardine went 0-8 on the game and Josphe only had 7 points. It wasn’t much better for Louisville either who’s Kyle Kuric went 1-8 from the field, including a 1-6 from 3-point range. These two teams made scoring hoops look like a herculean effort.
Louisville trailed 44-36 with just 7:31 left in the game. It looked like Syracuse had it locked up, but that was before Pitino’s squad went on a 15-2 run and grabbed a 51-46 lead with just 3:30 left to play. All the momentum was with the Cardinal. The win was theirs to lose and lose it they did.
Syracuse didn’t panic and recollected to score the final 6 points of the game and squeeze out a 52-51 victory. Louisville definitely had their opportunities in the last 3 minutes, but couldn’t seem to put it together. Turnovers, sloppy possessions, and hesitant shooting plagued the Cardinal’s final 3 minutes. It was just as much their lose as Syracuse’s win.
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