Syracuse put up a valiant effort, rallying from seven points down in the final two minutes of regulation, but gave up ten straight points to #4 Louisville in overtime en route to falling at the Carrier Dome, 76-72. The Orange (16-11, 8-6 ACC), who could have used another big win for their postseason resume, seemed to run out of steam after spending so much of the game playing from behind. The Cardinals (21-5, 9-4) led the game for nearly 39 minutes of play, allowing SU only brief leads in the second half and overtime.
A big culprit for Syracuse was their stagnant offense that relied far too frequently on three-point tries. More than half of the field goal attempts by the Orange came from long range and they converted only 8-of-34 (23.5 percent).
SU remained scoreless for the first four-plus minutes of the game, then mostly traded scores with the Cards until the midpoint of the opening half. From that point, Louisville went on a tear, rolling up ten straight points to double up the Orange at 28-14 with just under six minutes left in the opening half.
Syracuse retaliated by scoring 11 of the final 12 points of the half, holding the guests to 0-for-4 shooting from the field and forcing three turnovers. The Orange offense also got into gear, as John Gillon hit a three from the top of the key. Following a Cardinal foul shot, SU closed the half with eight straight points in the final five minutes.
Tyler Lydon started the stretch with a pair of free throws after getting fouled in the post. Tyus Battle spun in the lane and got a short flip shot to fall, then Lydon followed up a missed three-pointer with a two-handed slam. Not done yet, Lydon rolled in a jump hook from the left block to bring Syracuse within 29-25 at intermission.
The Cardinals pushed their lead out to seven points in the first three minutes after the break, but the Orange came right back at them with eight unanswered points. Taurean Thompson started the run by driving in from the right corner and sliding in a lefty lay-in. Andrew White III cut to the rim for a lay-up and added a jumper from just inside the arc on the right wing. Gillon then found Thompson in front of the Louisville defense in transition and the freshman center dropped in a lay-up for the first SU lead of the night at 37-36.
The Cards quickly got back in front and pushed their lead to three points, but Frank Howard drove the right side and finished off the backboard to cut the margin down to a single point. Howard then made an extra pass a couple possessions later, hitting Lydon in the left corner for a three and a 45-43 Orange lead with nine minutes to play.
Shortly after, Louisville rattled off nine straight points with Donovan Mitchell scoring all but one of them. The streak gave the visitors a 55-48 lead with under 4:30 remaining. The Cardinals kept playing tough defense after that, holding SU without a point for another couple minutes.
Then, Syracuse fought back once more.
White III made a steal, diving on the floor to get the loose ball, then flipped it to Gillon on the left wing for a three-pointer that brought the Orange within four. After a Cardinal foul shot, Gillon added a pair of his own from the stripe to make it a three-point game. Gillon then made a steal, which was eventually converted into a White III lay-up to bring SU within 56-55 with 1:09 on the clock.
A Cardinal dunk bolstered their lead to three points, but Gillon swished a high-arching three-pointer on the ensuing possession to knot the score at 58 with 37 ticks left.
Louisville missed a pair of free throws, giving the ball back to Syracuse with 16.4 seconds left. Following a timeout, Gillon drove into the lane, but lost the ball out of bounds with 3.6 seconds remaining. The Cardinals got a shot off, but their heave from beyond midcourt hit the top of the backboard and fell harmlessly away.
White III started the extra five minutes in fine fashion, driving the right side of the key for a three-point-play, but the Cardinals matched it with a long bomb. White then drew contact while going after a rebound and made both ends from the line for a 63-61 lead just over a minute into extra time.
That was the final SU lead of the night, as their offense went into the cooler and Louisville rolled up ten straight points for an eight-point lead with 45 seconds to go.
The Orange, however, would not go quietly. White III drained a three from the right wing, then Howard followed two Cardinal free throws by rattling in a triple from the other wing, bringing Syracuse back to 73-69 with 25 seconds left.
Following a foul, Louisville got one of two from the stripe and the Orange pushed the ball upcourt. White III tried a three from the left corner, but was fouled. The graduate student went to the line and calmly swished all three shots to make it a one-possession game at 74-72 in favor of the guests with 13.4 seconds on the clock.
Less than a second later, the Cards were back at the line. This time, both shots missed and SU had the ball.
Under duress, White III left his three-pointer short and Tyler Roberson rebounded, then was fouled on the putback. The senior forward, who came into the game having made only half his foul shots on the year, missed both. Gillon chased the loose ball toward the left corner, but stepped on the baseline, giving the ball back to Louisville.
The Orange fouled before the ball was inbounded, but both shots were true, giving Louisville a 76-72 victory.
Andrew White III was the top scorer in the game, pouring in 17 of his 22 points for SU after halftime. It was an uncharacteristically inefficient game for him, as the graduate student needed 24 shots to get those 22 points and made only 2-of-14 three-point tries. Tyler Lydon filled the stat sheet, finishing with 14 points and nine boards to go with three blocks and three steals. Taurean Thompson had 11 points, all in the first eight minutes of the second half, and John Gillon also finished the night with 11.
Five different Cardinals reached double digits, led by Donovan Mitchell, who had 16 points before fouling out late in regulation. Quentin Snider had 14 points and Anas Manmoud aided the Louisville cause with a dozen. Deng Adel had 11 points and Jaylen Johnson chipped in with ten.
Syracuse will have several days to rest up prior to traveling to Georgia Tech for a Sunday night contest. The Yellow Jackets (15-10, 6-6), who have won their last five games at home, including knocking off a pair of ranked teams, will face Miami on the road on Wednesday prior to their matchup with SU.
Four different players average double digits in scoring for Georgia Tech, led by freshman guard Josh Okogie, who posts 15.3 points per game. Right on his heels is junior center Ben Lammers, who averages 14.7 points per game and has logged a dozen double-doubles on the season.
Sunday’s action will get underway at 6:30pm Eastern with ESPNU airing the contest. The game will also be available online at ESPN3.com.