The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team lost its fifth game in its last six tries as Jim Boeheim’s club fell on the road to the Louisville Cardinals by a final score of 90-66 on Wednesday night. Syracuse kept the game to within single-digits in the first half, but the Cardinals won the second half by a 17 point margin.
With Louisville coming off a pair of losses, Chris Mack started Ryan McMahon and David Johnson against Syracuse, supplanting usual starters Lamarr Kimble and Darius Perry.
Louisville came strong out the gate as three 3s — two from Ryan McMahon — within the first four minutes gave the Cardinals an 11-5 edge at the first media timeout. Syracuse turned the ball over four times in the first four minutes. With the Orange struggling on both sides of the ball, Howard Washington came in as the second player off the bench, just after Quincy Guerrier replaced Bourama Sidibe in the opening minute.
Guerrier picked up two quick fouls, but he produced with four early points and three rebounds before the second media timeout. Louisville continued to dissect the 2-3 zone by dribble-driving into the middle and generating open looks from outside. Dwayne Sutton hit two 3s after McMahon in the early going.
With the Syracuse 2-3 zone struggling, Jim Boeheim inserted Brycen Goodine, going eight deep in the first half. Sidibe grabbed four first-half rebounds, but he picked up three fouls as was forced to sit until the break. Syracuse allowed the Louisville offense to get going as another 3-pointer, this time from Jordan Nwora, made it 31-19.
Louisville worked its lead up to as many as 13 in the first half, but Syracuse began to close the gap closer to the break. Joe Girard and Buddy Boeheim hit back to back 3s and cut into Louisville’s lead at the four minute mark. Boeheim began to shake out of his slump as he knocked down a dribble pull up minutes later. After he and McMahon traded 3s, Syracuse got back to within six points.
Guerrier made two free throws in the final minute of the half, giving him 8 points and 5 rebounds, but another McMahon triple just before the intermission gave Louisville a seven point lead at the break.
Louisville came out of the half and quickly built its lead to 11. Elijah Hughes tried to stop the run with a quick driving lay-up, but things began to get away from the Orange after that.
Louisville moved the ball quickly and methodically against the 2-3 zone. The Cardinals dissected the zone and generated open looks time again. Then came a barrage of 3s along with a plethora of wide open dunks.
Jordan Nwora made a pair of free throws. Then he dunked. Then he made a 3 which put Syracuse in a 17 point hole. Steven Enoch got going inside. Freshman Samuell Williamson found his groove. Sidibe came back in and fouled out. The Orange fell behind by 21. Then by 23. Then by 25 and soon 27.
Nothing went Syracuse’s way in the second half. Jim Boeheim went out onto the court and was whistled for a technical. Dolezaj got whistled for an over the back and fouled out. The Louisville lead ballooned to 29.
With the game out of hand, Boeheim waived the white flag down the stretch. He played the not so oft-used Goodine, Washington at guard simultaneously. He played Jesse Edwards at center, partially out of resignation and partially out of necessity with two front-court players fouled out.
Edwards converted on three field goals down the stretch and blocked a shot in the blowout. Guerrier finished with a double-double. Other than that, there wasn’t much positive to take out of the game as Syracuse’s 24 point loss was the final nail in the coffin for its long-shot NCAA Tournament hopes.
Quincy Guerrier finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds for Syracuse. Buddy Boeheim scored 15 points.
Jordan Nwora scored 19 points for Louisville while Malik Williams and Dwayne Sutton combined for 30 points and 21 rebounds.
Louisville shot 30 of 64 from the floor and 10 of 24 from deep.
Syracuse will now return home to take on Georgia Tech on Saturday. That game tips at 4:00 p.m. ET from the Carrier Dome.