MBB : ESCAPE ARTISTS: Syracuse uses late run to defeat Louisville on road

first_img Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jim Boeheim called it a fitting end to a defensive slugfest.In the final 2:11, neither Syracuse nor Louisville produced any points. In that span, the Orange had a layup blocked, missed an open jumper and couldn’t convert the front end of a one-and-one. The Cardinals coughed the ball up twice, missed a reverse layup from underneath the basket and failed to get off a final shot before the buzzer.With the rest of the offensive numbers from the game, those final two minutes just about summed it up perfectly.‘It probably should have ended that way,’ Boeheim said, ‘because it was really a defensive struggle the whole game.’No. 2 SU (26-1, 13-1 Big East) bumbled its way to a 52-51 win over No. 19 Louisville (20-6, 8-5 Big East) in front of 22,738 fans at the KFC Yum! Center on Monday, snapping a seven-game losing streak against the Cardinals. Both teams shot less than 35 percent from the field in a fierce battle of offensive ineptitude. And while Boeheim pointed to each squad’s defensive prowess as the reason for the miserable offense, he admitted that was putting a positive spin on the game.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘It was just a struggle for both teams offensively, and you can either give the defenses credit or say it was a bad offensive game,’ Boeheim said. ‘We’re going to look on the bright side and say it was a real defensive struggle tonight.’In the duel for offensive incompetence, Syracuse took the opening step by not reaching double digits until more than 11:30 into the action. But Kris Joseph’s jumper pulled SU within 13-11 at that point, as Louisville was hardly better.The pick-and-roll sets the Orange has relied on throughout the season failed to create openings against the Cardinals’ matchup zone, leading to Syracuse’s lowest first-half scoring output of the season at 22 points.‘The pick-and-roll, we usually use that a lot against man-to-man, but it wasn’t working against the zone,’ junior Brandon Triche said. ‘We could have just penetrated by ourselves and found guys open and penetrated again once they were flying at us. But we didn’t do that. We could have fixed that, but we didn’t.’Fortunately for SU, the Cardinals matched every offensive deficiency it put forth.Syracuse went 1-of-15 from 3-point range. Louisville went 12-of-21 at the free-throw line. Orange senior Scoop Jardine didn’t hit a field goal in eight tries. UL senior Kyle Kuric only made one of his eight on the night. SU sunk just two shots outside the paint. The Cardinals turned the ball over 16 times.After both teams endured a three-minute scoreless stretch in the second half with Syracuse ahead 36-35, the Orange finally found some rhythm. A Dion Waiters layup followed by back-to-back dunks gave SU what seemed like an overwhelming seven-point lead.But the Cardinals offense finally caught fire, too.‘They went on their run,’ Joseph said. ‘They were at home. You got to expect it. They hadn’t made it yet.’After a timeout to slow SU’s momentum, Louisville exploded on a 16-4 stretch to take a five-point lead. It seemed like a knockout blow in front of the raucous crowd.But then came the final run of disastrous offense for the Cardinals. Louisville failed to score over the final 3:38. C.J. Fair put the Orange in front to stay when Waiters found him for an uncontested layup with 2:11 to go.And Syracuse’s 52-51 was cemented in the final two minutes.Louisville center Gorgui Dieng had the first chance to put the Cardinals back in front when he caught a pass at the free-throw line. SU left him uncovered, but Dieng, already 2-of-9 from the field in the game, didn’t even look at the rim. He opted to pass the ball off, and it was stolen away by Joseph.Chris Smith missed a layup on Louisville’s next possession, followed by a pass by Peyton Siva into a sea of hands that was picked off by Waiters.Waiters missed the front end of a one-and-one to give the Cardinals one final chance with 1.1 seconds left. But the game’s final blunder came when Angel Nunez, seeing his first action of the night, dropped Louisville’s long inbounds pass at half court as time expired.‘We knew we needed stops,’ Triche said. ‘We just planned on trying to get one stop at a time. …We missed some shots, so it wasn’t like we just got hot. We just made sure we stopped those guys from scoring.’[email protected] center_img Published on February 13, 2012 at 12:00 pmlast_img read more