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Syracuse 69 - Louisville 59: Five Big Takeaways

What did last night tell us about the Orange?

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange topped the Louisville Cardinals 69-59 at the Carrier Dome on Wednesday, avoiding their fifth loss in seven games. Here are five takeaways:

1. Christmas bounces back.

Rakeem Christmas turned in one of his best games of the season Wednesday, scoring 29 points to go along with eight rebounds and four blocks. His big night came one game after his disappointing outing against Duke, when he went just 5-of-17 from the field in a much-anticipated showdown with Jahlil Okafor. It was a return to form for Christmas, whose 29 points marked the 24th time in 26 games that he's achieved double-digit scoring,

2. Defense, defense, defense.

The Orange managed to overcome a 32-28 halftime deficit Wednesday night, using a 16-5 run in the second half to surge past the Cardinals. Particularly integral to the comeback was the play of SU's defense. Syracuse held Louisville to 32.1 percent shooting in the second half and Montrezl Harrell to just three points on 1-of-4 shooting. Afterwards, Boeheim would call his team's defense the difference in the game.

3. Roberson builds off Saturday's performance.

Tyler Roberson scored 13 points and collected a team-high nine rebounds, finishing just one board shy of his second consecutive double-double. In Saturday's loss to Duke, he had a season-high 19 rebounds and 10 rebounds. Roberson has quietly become one of Syracuse's most consistent contributors over team's last the eight games. In that stretch, he's averaging 9.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

4. Once more, Cooney struggles while Gbinije shines.

Trevor Cooney went just 1-of-10 from the field and 1-of-9 from three-point range Wednesday night. In Syracuse's last five games, he's shooting just 29.2 percent (19-of-65) from the field and a mere 21.7 percent (10-of-46) from three-point range.

Meanwhile, Cooney's partner in the backcourt -- Michael Gbinije -- went 5-of-10 from the field and scored 18 points in the win. The junior has scored at least 18 points in five straight games, a stretch in which he's averaging 21.4 points per game. Very suddenly, he's become arguably the Orange's most dependable player.

5. This time, SU makes its free throws.

Poor free throw shooting -- especially in the most crucial moments -- has plagued Jim Boeheim's team all season. Missed free throws nearly cost the Orange a win at Virginia Tech last month and did cost them a win against Miami on January 24. But Syracuse reversed that script last night. SU went 21-of-27 from the charity stripe, including 7-of-8 in the game's final two minutes, to help secure its eighth win in conference play.