Top 25: No. 10 Louisville hands No. 12 Syracuse third straight loss
Syracuse, N.Y. • Luke Hancock hit a 3-pointer from the corner to break a tie with 99 seconds left, and No. 10 Louisville beat No. 12 Syracuse 58-53 on Saturday, exacting a measure of revenge for a loss to the Orange earlier this season.
It was the third straight loss for Syracuse (22-7, 10-6 Big East), which was humbled 57-46 in a loss to No. 7 Georgetown a week ago before a record Carrier Dome crowd of 35,012. That snapped the Orange's 38-game home winning streak, and they were beaten again, 74-71, at No. 22 Marquette on Monday night to drop into a tie with Notre Dame behind the league-leading Hoyas, Louisville and Marquette.
The Irish were at Marquette later Saturday as the race to get a double-bye into the Big East tournament heated up.
Louisville (24-5, 12-4) snapped a three-game losing streak against Syracuse, and the Cardinals did it before a stunned crowd of 31,173.
Russ Smith led Louisville with 18 points, Hancock had 12, all on 3s, and Gorgui Dieng finished with 11 points and 14 rebounds.
C.J. Fair had 19 points to lead the Orange, James Southerland added 13 and Michael Carter-Williams 11. Syracuse outrebounded Louisville 41-36 but was victimized by eight 3-pointers and shot poorly again (20 of 56 for 35.7 percent). Louisville held a 16-9 edge on points off turnovers and a 14-8 edge at the free throw line.
After Hancock swished a straight-on 3 for Louisville, Fair hit a spinning layup as Dieng fouled him but missed the free throw and Syracuse trailed 41-40 with 7:34 to go.
Louisville began to press and the strategy paid off with two straight turnovers. Southerland lost the ball off the dribble and Triche mishandled an inbounds pass. The Cardinals took advantage as Dieng sank two free throws and Hancock hit a 3 from the wing for a 47-40 lead at 5:35.
Carter-Williams scored six straight points in a span of just over a minute to rally the Orange, hitting four free throws and a shot off the glass as Syracuse trailed 47-46 with 4:27 left. Fair's baseline jumper gave Syracuse the lead and Smith's free throw tied it at 48-all with 1:39 to go.
After Triche missed a baseline layup against Dieng, Hancock stole Triche's ensuing inbounds pass and Hancock drained his fourth 3 to break the tie. Smith then hit two free throws and Triche's turnover sealed the Orange's fate as the Cardinals hit 7 of 8 free throws in the final minute.
Syracuse beat Louisville 70-68 in mid-January in the final seconds when Carter-Williams stole a pass at the top of the key and raced the length of the court, slamming home a two-hander that Dieng couldn't contest and landing hard on his back underneath the backboard. A record crowd of 22,814 at the KFC Yum! Center saw Syracuse beat a No. 1 team for fourth time, and the Cardinals are still the only top-ranked team to lose at home this season.
Syracuse, which trailed 23-19 after a poor first half, found a way to foil Dieng, Louisville's shot-blocking defensive ace, early in the second half. Carter-Williams fed Rakeem Christmas for a slam dunk and less than a minute later Southerland slammed another home to complete a three-way passing play in the lane with Christmas and Triche to move Syracuse within 28-27.
With Dieng on the bench, Southerland, who had just one basket in the first half, then drained a 3 from the top of the arc to give Syracuse just its second lead of the game. It was short-lived as Kevin Ware hit a 3 from the top of the key 24 seconds later.
Carter-Williams tried to electrify the crowd, but his driving two-handed dunk try caromed off the back of the rim. Carter-Williams then stole the ball and fed Southerland for a deep 3 and a 35-33 Orange lead nearing the midpoint of the second half.
It was Southerland's third straight make after an awful first half and he wasn't finished. Triche fed him for another 3 as he curled off a screen in the corner.
Fair's follow with 88 seconds left were the final points of the first half as the Orange trailed 23-19, their fewest points in a first half this season.