It may have been Senior Day at the Carrier Dome on Saturday afternoon, but it was a pair of underclassmen who led the way as Syracuse closed their schedule with a 58-49 win over #19 Louisville.
Junior Brandon Triche and sophomore Dion Waiters combined for 31 points to power the Orange (30-1, 17-1 Big East) past the Cardinals (22-9, 10-8) and send seniors Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph out of the Dome as winners. SU shut down the Cards, holding the guests to a season-low in points mostly by allowing them to make under 34 percent of their field goals, including an anemic 2-of-23 from three-point range.
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Louisville controlled the opening minutes of the game, allowing Syracuse to tie the score twice, but otherwise led for the first 13 minutes, opening up the margin to 15-9 after eight minutes. The Orange took the lead for good late in the first half, using a 17-1 burst that lasted less than six minutes. SU, who got seven points from James Southerland and a half dozen in a row from Dion Waiters as part of the run, closed with 12 straight points for a 26-16 lead with four minutes to play. The Syracuse defense provided the backbone of the decisive run, forcing the Cardinals into ten consecutive misses from the field and five turnovers in the span. Louisville righted their ship late in the half, scoring the final three points of the session to get within seven at the break.
Brandon Triche lit up the visitors in the opening 93 seconds of the second half, scoring the first eight points after the break to stretch the Orange lead to 34-19. The Cardinals chopped the lead down to 11 on three occasions, but seven straight SU points stretched the lead out to 45-27 with seven minutes off the clock. Syracuse stretched their lead out to 19 points with under nine minutes to play, but Louisville responded with a 9-0 run to get within 50-40 with just over four minutes left. Triche blunted the Cardinals’ run with four straight free throws and the Orange stretched the lead back out to 15 points as they cruised to the final horn.
Brandon Triche led the Orange attack with 18 points, including 13 in the second half. He also dropped in a trio of three pointers in the game. Dion Waiters added 13 points while Kris Joseph dropped in 11. Fab Melo and James Southerland brought a strong defensive effort, blocking four and three shots, respectively.
GAME AND TEAM NOTES:
- During this past week, both Kris Joseph and Dion Waiters were named to the watch list of 30 finalists for the Naismith Award, which goes to the best player in college basketball.
- Joseph was also named to the All-Big East first team, while Scoop Jardine was named to the second team and Waiters to the third team. The Big East Player of the Year will come from the six players named to the conference’s first team.
- The game attendance of 33,205 is the fifth-largest in school history.
- By reaching the 30-win mark, the Orange set a school record for most regular season wins and is one shy of tying the school’s overall record for wins, which was set by the 1986-87 team.
- SU also became the second team in Big East history to finish with a 17-1 conference record, matching Connecticut’s 1995-96 team.
- Syracuse also went undefeated at the Carrier Dome for only the second time in history with a 19-0 home record. The only other team in SU history to do so was the 2002-03 team, which went 17-0.
- Syracuse is off until Thursday, when they will open play in the quarterfinal round of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The top-seeded Orange have a pair of byes and will play one of three teams pending the results of first- and second-round games.
- Those teams are 16-seed DePaul (12-18), 9-seed Seton Hall (19-11), and 8-seed West Virginia (19-12). The first two teams meet in the first round of action, while West Virginia awaits the winner in the second round. SU defeated all three teams in their regular season matchups.