It was a chance at payback for the 10th ranked University of Louisville basketball Cardinals (24-5, 12-4 Big East) as they traveled to New York to take on the 12th ranked Syracuse University Orange (22-7, 10-6) at the Carrier Dome on Saturday. Cuse stole a win earlier this year at the KFC Yum! Center when Louisville was ranked number one so the Cards were looking for redemption. They also wanted to find a way to close the season undefeated and now they have a good shot at it as they beat the men in orange, 58-53.
The game started fairly even which was good news for Louisville since the road hasn’t been kind to the Cards all season because they always start out so tight. But with the caliber of talent in each line up, you knew both teams would settle down and get into their own rhythms.
Louisville's first run was 9-0 as they seemed to be determined not to have a let down affect this game that way it did the first time they played. You could see it in the way Gorgui Dieng looked to take over the game with his jump shot and his moves to the basket.
Both teams shot a poor percentage in the first half. Louisville hit on just 31% and Syracuse just 27.3% so defense was the way to keep it close. That's a place Dieng made his presence felt, too The Senegal native let the Orange know that nothing would be easy inside while Russ Smith and Peyton Siva kept picking pockets on the wings.
Play for Louisville got sloppy toward the end of the first half and let the Orange close the gap to 23-19 before going into the break. Even though it was a 4 point lead, it felt like it should be more because the Cardinals outplayed the home team. In fact, the 19 points were a season low for Syracuse in the first half.
Siva continued his struggles against the Orange, going scoreless for the entire game and never once drawing enough contact to even go to the free throw line. No one can seem to figure out why he has trouble with this team, but it’s plagued his entire college career.
In the second half, Syracuse got all their 2-foul guys who spent time on the bench in the first stanza back into the game. As a result, the Orange played a tougher. To counteract, Louisville hit shots at a better rate. Smith started that off as did Wayne Blackshear, who had been way too quiet for his first 20 minutes.
Photo: Louisville.com/Tim Girton