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Syracuse entered Freedom Hall on Saturday afternoon looking to get one more win on the regular season and stay perfect on the road. However, Syracuse already had a #1 seed in the Big East locked up, and more than likely an NCAA #1 seed as well. That just wasn't enough to play for, as Louisville had the final game in Freedom Hall, as well as a good win to get off the bubble and get into the tournament. They had the motivation and played very well against Syracuse again to earn the victory over the Orange 78 to 68.
Syracuse and Louisville started this game cold as no one wanted to earn the first bucket. Louisville kept chucking up three pointers, while Syracuse turned the ball over in the paint or simply missed from point blank range. Both teams stayed close until Syracuse earned a five point lead at the half, which was pretty good for that environment SU found themselves in. Louisville took the lead with about 13:35 to go in the second half and never looked back. In taking a season high for a Big East game by any team, Louisville threw up 40 three point attempts and connected on 12, and had good contributions from their bench. Meanwhile, Syracuse was frustrated with the mixed defenses Louisville started running. Syracuse kept missing, including a lot of lay ups, while Louisville beat Syracuse from behind the arc and in transition. Louisville earns the nice big home win in their final regular season game in Freedom Hall.
Syracuse's leading scorer was Scoop Jardine with 20 points on 8-13 shooting. He also hit 2-5 from behind the arc. He shot the ball well and kept Syracuse alive for a good portion of this game. He also added six rebounds and two steals. He played the best for Syracuse on the day and was the second highest scorer in the game.
Wes Johnson also played well for the Orange, scoring 18 points. However it was on 6-15 shooting. He added five rebounds and two blocks. Johnson continues to not be the guy that can take over a game for Syracuse. From all indications his hand still bothers him, which seems ridiculous after all this time. Hopefully he will be primed to be the guy for the Big East Tournament and the NCAAs.
Arinze Onuaku was good again in the low post. He had 14 points on 7-10 shooting. He pulled down seven rebounds and bricked two of two free throw attempts. He continues to be the dominant presence down low for Syracuse and is still on his hot streak.
The two zeros of the game for Syracuse were Rick Jackson and Andy Rautins. While Jackson had ten points and ten rebounds, he shot 4-9 from the floor. That is five missed lay ups for those keeping track at home. After the season he has had, it is almost unfathomable that he would miss five lay ups. Andy Rautins only had three points on 1-9 shooting from the floor and 1-8 from behind the arc. He had four rebounds, four assists, and two steals, and his defense was solid, but he had his first truly awful game on the road this season.
Syracuse was held to only 68 points in this game. Additionally they were held to 27-62 (43.5%) from the floor. Although there was a stretch at the end in panic mode that brought them down a bit, they did not shoot well in this game, especially in the second half. Louisville shot just better with 30-65 (46.2%). L'ville shot 12-40 (30%) from long range, while Syracuse hit 4-16 (25%). Syracuse had 11 turnovers, which was good, and L'ville had 14, but Louisville out assisted Syracuse 25-15.
Honestly, Syracuse lost nothing in this game but some hurt pride. It will not affect anything related to the rest of Syracuse's season. I suppose as long as we don't play Louisville again. Syracuse will now wait until Thursday to begin their Big East Tournament campaign. For now they will hopefully look at the tape and improve. I'm not that upset with this loss, but it would have been nice to hang onto #1 for another week. At least we head to New York as the #1 seed, which is a rare treat indeed. In the mean time, you're welcome Louisville. Your ticket has been punched thanks to us.

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