February 27, 2017
Story by Brianna Adams Photos by Bridget Chavez LOUISVILLE, KY. — The KFC Yum! Center roared from tip off to the buzzer as No. 7 University of Louisville (23-6, 11-5) demolished Syracuse University (17-13, 9-8), 88-68, in the home stretch of the regular season Sunday. After Syracuse forced Louisville to overtime in the match at the […]
Story by Brianna Adams
Photos by Bridget Chavez
LOUISVILLE, KY. — The KFC Yum! Center roared from tip off to the buzzer as No. 7 University of Louisville (23-6, 11-5) demolished Syracuse University (17-13, 9-8), 88-68, in the home stretch of the regular season Sunday.
After Syracuse forced Louisville to overtime in the match at the Carrier Dome 13 days earlier, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino’s squad adjusted and stopped any chance of Syracuse making another comeback.
“The most impressive thing about the win is we got off our feet and challenged every shot they took.” Pitino said. “We pressed. We didn’t press at Syracuse, Outside of that, Syracuse can beat anybody on a given night, and we just wanted to make sure that every shot they took was challenged.”
Louisville Defensive Attack
The press effectively killed Syracuse’s opportunities behind the arc. The team shot 27.9 percent on three-point attempts with only one coming from Andrew White III. The grad transfer has been consistent all season for the Orange but in the battle in Kentucky, the guard he managed just seven points, getting off just eight 3-point shots and connecting on just the one.
“We play him as if he has no dribble,” Pitino said. “We get up. We sit on his right hand.”
Keeping the Orange alive
John Gillon, whose last-second shot beat Duke Wednesday night at the Carrier Dome, scored ten points in the game and was shut out in the first half.
“First half, if John Gillon and Andrew White don’t score, we’re not going to do much,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said.
Freshman Tyus Battle (20 points) and sophomore Tyler Lydon (17 points) carried the offensive load for the Orange. In the first five minutes of the game, Syracuse struggled to score a basket with its first few points coming from free throws. It wasn’t until Battle knocked a three that momentum changed for the Orange.
A second three by Battle put Syracuse ahead 17-13 at the midway point of the first half.
But the Cardinals closed out the half on a 28-8 run and led 41-25 at halftime.
Battle and Lydon scored 23 of the 25 points the team had.
“I think we got good looks,” Battle said. “We just weren’t making them today and that’s just the game of basketball. It happens.”
The Orange never got closer than eleven in the second half and wound up losing by the largest margin it has in a league game since it joined the ACC.
Sophomore guard Donovan Mitchell has been key for Louisville’s success this season. In Sunday’s match, Donovan punctured the zone immediately drilling a three for the first points of the game less than a minute in. Mitchell dominated behind the arc knocking six of ten 3-pointers against the Orange zone defense. Mitchell ended the game leading both teams in scoring with 25 points.
On the defensive end Mitchell had two key steals and five boards, helping Louisville capitalize on Syracuse’s missed opportunities.
“Great shooter, he’s improved his passing,” Pitino said. “He’s a steal machine, quite a player.”
Regular Season Finale
The regular season is nearing its end for the two ACC teams. The Cardinals will next travel to Winston-Salem, North Carolina on Wednesday to close out their games on the road with a conference match against Wake Forest (16-12, 7-9). They will then close out their regular season at home against Notre Dame (22-7, 11-5) on Saturday.
Syracuse returns to the Carrier Dome for one last game against Georgia Tech (16-13, 7-9) on Saturday. The Orange are looking for redemption and a chance to bolster their NCAA tournament chances after losing 71-65 in Atlanta last week. The Yellow Jackets lost at Notre Dame, 64-60, on Sunday night.