A quick take on Syracuse’s 69-49 win over No. 18 Louisville on Wednesday night at the Carrier Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: Louisville had one its most disastrous offensive outings of the season, shooting just 25.9 percent from the field and 6-28 from downtown. The Cardinals went scoreless from 8:58 in the first half to 4:21 before intermission, and by then, the Orange had jumped out to a 24-13 lead. Louisville made an early push in the second half, with a Khwan Fore dunk cutting the lead to 35-27 with 18:40 to go. But SU responded with a 9-0 run capped by an Elijah Hughes 3-pointer, which made it 44-27 with 13:48 left, and Syracuse never looked back from there.
ANALYSIS: Syracuse picked up a critical Quad 1 win to improve to 3-4. The key number for the Orange for safe entry into the NCAA Tournament seems to be 10 ACC wins, and SU improved to 9-4 in conference play with a Quad 3 game still remaining on the road against Wake Forest. Of course, Syracuse has plenty of obstacles to navigate between now and then, starting with a Saturday rematch date with No. 1 Duke. But for now, Syracuse added a resume win that doesn’t come with qualifiers. Syracuse’s win over Ohio State in non-conference play has been diminished by the Buckeyes’ five-game losing streak (including an ugly loss to Rutgers) while many have pointed to Duke missing two starters in SU’s win at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Louisville, No. 16 in the NET rankings, had no such excuses in losing to Syracuse, which will almost certainly move up from its current 48 NET ranking.
HERO: The stat sheet only shows that Marek Dolezaj had six points and nine rebounds. But he absorbed several charges, and got to a large share of 50-50 balls in the “things that don’t show up in the stat sheet” category. Hughes shook off a slow 0-5 start from downtown to finish 4-10 from beyond the arc and 18 points.
ZERO: Dwayne Sutton and Christen Cunningham combined for 1-16 shooting from the field, 0-8 from downtown and just nine points.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse hosts Duke in what will likely set an NCAA on-campus attendance record on Saturday at 6 p.m. TV: ESPN.