When I saw on Friday that the line for the Syracuse-Louisville game was in favor of the Cardinals, I was indignant. Such disrespect that the No. 1 team in the nation was going to be an underdog. I didn't care that it was on the road, that the opponent was celebrating Senior Day, that they were closing down their famous arena or that they had beaten the Orange five of the last six times they played. This was unacceptable and an affront to everything SU had worked for and accomplished.
In the back of mind, I kinda agreed. Stepping back, I was able to see that Louisville probably should have been favored. Karmic and cosmic forces seemed to be aligning in favor of the Cardinals and it was going to take Heaven and Earth for the Orange to overcome the emotional blockage all of Louisville, Kentucky was putting up.
I said that I really did not want Syracuse to lose this game and I meant it. I felt like the Orange needed to avenge their earlier lost and they needed to win a tough, emotional game on the road. I didn't really care that it was the last game of the year and that it was "irrelevant." Ultimately, the Orange were bound to lose at some point over the week so I suppose better they head into the Big East Tournament with a renewed sense of purpose than to come in flat.
Louisville pulled out all the stops, and three-pointers, to defeat the Orange 78-68. Some would say that they provided a blueprint on how to beat SU. If that blueprint is to launch 40 three-point shots and count on a once-in-a-lifetime performance from one of your bench players...so be it. Syracuse will take their chances against that plan any day.
Kyle Kuric had a career-high 22 points, as Louisville closed out Freedom Hall in style, knocking off top-ranked Syracuse, 78-68, in front of a raucous crowd.
Playing in its 54th and final season at the facility, Louisville (20-11, 11-7 Big East) got its fourth win ever against a No. 1-ranked team and bolstered its resume for an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.
The sophomore guard was averaging 3.5 points in a little more than 13 minutes per contest, but keyed the Louisville victory in the second half, when he scored all of his points. Kuric shot 9-of-11, including 4-of-6 from three- point range, and threw down several emphatic dunks down the stretch to punctuate the victory.
One bright spot for the Orange? Scoop Jardine,who scored 20 points and made a bunch of great plays over the game. With Andy Rautins going MIA and Kris Joseph bothered by a tweaked knee, Scoop was a big reason the game wasn't more of a blowout.
Wes also added 18 as well, but as much as Wes will get all of the accolades, we continue to learn that Andy Rautins is more valuable. As Andy goes, so go the Orange.
"I made so many turnovers tonight," Rautins said. "I had a terrible game. I blamed this loss solely on me."
Boeheim tried to maintain a little perspective afterward while also conceding that SU is still learning as they go:
"You know what I told them?’’ Boeheim said. "I said ‘By the way, the one thing you set out to do in the Big East, is to win the league. And by the way, we won the league.’ That’s what I told them.’’
"We’ll learn from this,’’ Boeheim said. "There’s things we can learn from this. But the bottom-line is you start out in the Big East and you want to do well enough to get into the NCAA tournament and if you finish someplace in the top four or five, that’s pretty good. But if you can win the thing, I don’t think you can do better that.’’
The Orange now have a very clear motivation to win the Big East Tournament. They'll want to reiterate to the league and the nation that they are the team to beat in the best conference in America. That tiny chip is back on their shoulder and whichever team they face in the BET quarters should expect to feel the brunt of it. SU is still a lock for the one-seed in the NCAA Tourney but they'll want to make sure no one has any reason to doubt it.
SU-Louisville Recap...Brent Axe
NOT IN THE CARDS: Syracuse suffers first road loss of season, falls to Louisville for 2nd time...Daily Orange
What We Learned: Loss to Louisville won't really hurt Syracuse...Mike DeCourcey, Sporting News
You’re welcome, Louisville...Cuse Country
Thanks Rick...Orange Fizz