clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Previewing Syracuse basketball vs. No. 7 Louisville

Round two.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Louisville
Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim talks with Louisville Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino before the first half at KFC Yum! Center. Louisville defeated Syracuse 72-58. 
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

After a potential season-changing victory over No. 10 Duke on Wednesday night, the Syracuse Orange may have an even tougher task at hand this Sunday when it travels to No. 7 Louisville for a matinee matchup at the KFC Yum! Center.

In the first game between the former Big East rivals, Louisville was victorious in overtime, 76-72.

The Cardinals finished with five players in double-figures, and out-rebounded the Orange by eight.

If you don’t remember, this was one Andrew White’s worst performance of the year from 3-point range. He went just 2-of-14, and 7-of-24 overall from the field. He somehow managed to still score 22 points, which was a game-high, but if he gave SU a little more in regulation — the season may have a different outlook.

John Gillon also struggled in the first matchup. He had the same amount of assists as turnovers - five - and was unable to get going against Louisville’s stingy pressure defense.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

This was also the game where Tyler Roberson went to the free throw line with less than five seconds left and had a chance to tie the game. He missed both free throws, and Louisville’s Ryan McMahon then made two free throws and that ended it.

Syracuse came back from yet another double-digit deficit against Louisville back on Valentines Day, but its magic ran out at the end.

Whether SU needs Sunday’s game to get into the NCAA Tournament — well, who knows? But one thing’s for certain: a win would answer a lot of questions.

Here are my three keys to Sunday’s game for the Orange:

1. Rebounding: Syracuse will need to stay strong on the glass to have a chance in this game. As stated above, Louisville won the battle of the boards in the first game by eight. The rebounding margin can’t be much more than that if SU wants a win.

2. Foul trouble: Syracuse will need to stay out of foul trouble on Sunday, especially Thompson and Lydon. The Orange will need big games out of both of these players in a hostile environment. Gillon, White and Thompson all finished the first matchup with four fouls. That can’t happen on Sunday.

3. Start fast: I know it turns out that Syracuse seemingly plays better once it gets down by double-digits, but how about a fast start for once? Maybe be the team that gets up by 10 points, rather than down. If SU can take the crowd out of it on Sunday early and get out to an early lead, well it’ll make things a lot easier down the stretch.