The Cardinal defense also had trouble creating turnovers which is the teeth of the Louisville defense. They were tasked with finding what brought them to the party and start playing that way. By the end, they turned over the Orange 19 times.
When they finally found that rhythm, they started playing like the defending Big East Tournament champions as they went on a 10-0 run in only 1:45. When the run went to 20-3 to wrench the lead from the Orange, the Cards finally got their mojo working. The exclamation point was a Harrell two hand jam.
The Louisville bench came up big. Harrell played strong and Kevin Ware nailed big shots as well. With a confident Luke Hancock playing like he's been there before, the comeback kept rolling. Early on, Syracuse had the blowout working. However, Louisville didn't want that to be their script.
Games like this are the ones coaches tell you to dig deep for. What Louisville did was take their warm up shirts seriously. They came out with "Rise to the Occasion" sweatshirts for every game of the tournament. If there was ever a game challenge that the motto, this was it.
The unlikely hero was Montrezl Harrell. He scored 20 points and 7 rebounds in his biggest came as a Cardinal. Smith and Hancock finished with 10 each. When Louisville got the extra pass working, you got Siva and Gorgui Dieng both dishing 8 assists.
For the second year in a row, the Cards are Big East Tournament Champions and Peyton Siva is the player of the tournament for the second year as well. Sunday night, we’ll see where Louisville’s bracket will take them with the possibility of them playing their opening round games in Rupp Arena in Lexington.
Photo: Louisville.com/Tim Girton
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