This game started off on the slow side, to say the least. Louisville started off the game in a way they are not comfortable with. They came out slow and seemed to be just not all there mentally. Syracuse and their great Coach Boeheim saw this and took advantage of it immediately. The Orange immediately went to work on dismantling Louisville’s outside defense. Nevermind the fact that this was Syracuse’s fourth game in as many days; they came out fresh like a newly-peeled Orange (pun intended). Granted, the Orange took a while to find their stroke as well, but they eventually found it and hit their stride much quicker than the Cards. Early threes by Fair and Southerland, coupled with some easy jumpers from largely the same players put Syracuse out to a 15-9 lead at the first media timeout. Dieng was basically the only Louisville player showing some semblance of an offense up to this point. After that, Syracuse seemed to just hit full throttle. A combination of offense from Triche, Keita, and Carter-Williams shot the Orange out to 35-22 lead at halftime for the Cuse. They were carrying a humongous amount of momentum, as well as the fact that everything seemed to be clicking offensively. The Orange were unrelenting.
And then the second half was underway. Almost immediately, the offense started clicking for the Cards. Every player seemed to be hitting. The skilled backcourt duo of Siva and Smith were on, as well the down-low combo of Dieng and Harrell. Louisville was on and everyone on Syracuse seemed to be shut down, with the exception of C.J. Fair, who seemed to be trying his best to keep his Orange in the game. Eventually, Louisville went on a 44-10 run and had a 32-point swing in the 2nd half. This game truly was the tale of two halves.
- Cardinals managed to get major Cuse players in foul trouble (Carter-Williams 5, Triche and Southerland 4). These key players sat for a while, allowing for Louisville to have some definite mismatches, allowing for better chances for Cardinal players to score.
- Montrezl Harrell was named POTG tonight, after scoring a very impressive 20 points and 7 rebounds. Harrell really stood out even among the myriad of impressive Cardinal performances tonight.
- Peyton Siva was named Big East Tournament MOP for the second year in a row. He is the first player to accomplish this feat since Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing did so in the 1984-85 tournaments.
- Luke Hancock was 1-4 tonight, but managed to hit 7 of 8 free throws, giving him a total of 10 points. Clutch shooting at the charity stripe.
- This is Syracuse’s 9th loss in the Big East Championship game since the tournament was introduced in 1980.
This is classic Pitino. Quality defense and offense lead to a team peaking in tournament time. Pitino has got this team firing on all cylinders. I cannot be more excited for how this team looks headed into the NCAA tourney. Louisville has a 1 seed locked up and looks to be poised for another great run. The only thing that really scares me is what happened tonight. If Louisville pulls something like what they did tonight, poor offense and defending the jumper, they will be out of luck against a quality team in the tourney. There are teams better than Syracuse that Louisville could possibly face, and they won’t let Louisville go on a 44-10 run against them. At least tonight really did prove that under pressure and down by a lot, Louisville kept their composure and was able to come barreling back. Let’s just hope it never has to come to this again.