Louisville has struggled in its last four games since playing SU on Feb. 13. It needed overtime to defeat DePaul and just edged Pitt 57-54 at the Yum! Center. The other two games were losses, including a 60-56 defeat at Cincinnati and most recently, a 58-51 defeat to USF on Wednesday.
With the loss, the Cardinals dropped to seventh in the Big East. It only gets tougher for Louisville, as it has to travel to the Carrier Dome to play Syracuse on Saturday.
Can SU make it two in a row against the Cardinals? Or will Rick Pitino best his old boss once again?
Here are three other questions to ask on Saturday.
CAN THE ORANGE CONTINUE TO REBOUND?
Syracuse had one of its best rebounding halves of the season in a 71-69 win over Connecticut on Saturday. The Orange was +10 on the boards in the first half, with a 23-13 advantage.
» Can SU win another? Discuss.
“When we outrebound somebody, that’s unusual,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said to reporters following the game. “Highly.”
The second half was a different story, as SU was beat on the glass 24-18.
Still, the Orange got strong contributions from from its front line, as Fab Melo (9), Kris Joseph (7) and CJ Fair (7) all had nice performances. Plus, Syracuse rebounded when it needed to—the game winning basket game from Melo, who slammed in a Fair miss.
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The Orange was outrebounded 39-37 in its win in Louisville. If Syracuse wants to win again, it will need to keep that pace up.
CAN JOSEPH KEEP IT UP?
Joseph was a non factor for much of the previous game against the Cardinals because of foul trouble. He played just 25 minutes and finished with seven points and six rebounds.
In the three games since then, Joseph has averaged 15.6 points, including 21 points on Saturday against the Huskies.
“I thought Kris was tremendous tonight,” Boeheim said.
The same could be said of Joseph’s efforts on the boards.
In the past three games, Joseph has averaged seven rebounds over the same span, and has been much more active on both ends of the floor. Joseph will be looking for a similar performance in his final game at the Carrier Dome.
CAN SU WIN ANOTHER CLOSE GAME?
This is actually a recurring topic.
The average margin of victory for Syracuse has been 5.25 over the last four games. And yet, with all of the close games SU has been in this season, its managed to win each one.
» Matt Dagostino: Syracuse keeps finding ways to win
“They find a way to make a play at the end of the game,” Boeheim said. “Whether it’s a defensive play at Louisville, or offensive plays, tip in, drive – they’ve found a way all year long to make something good happen.”
Louisville, a team that had won seven straight games against SU, figures to give the Orange another tightly contested game. Will it be a defensive stand that wins it for SU? A buzzer beater? A key rebound?
It seems that the Orange has seen it all this season.