Syracuse headed to Louisville today, hoping to finally add a strong win to their resume and again vault to upper echelon of the Big East. Yet again, in what is becoming a trend in this season, the Orange showed they are unable to win a big game against a strong conference foe, as they dropped this game to lose their sixth game in their past eight. Again, they were plagued by lapses in defense, poor offense, and too little, too late, to pull off a victory.
After a strong start to the game, Syracuse appeared to be rolling. However, a 7 point lead evaporated in a matter of minutes to a 9 point deficit, and that was before Terrence Jennings hit an absurd 3 point shot at the half-court buzzer that effectively took the life out of Syracuse. Before long, the Cardinals were up 20 in the second half, and Syracuse was playing so listlessly I had to walk away from the TV for a few minutes, something I very rarely will do. The defense was non-existent, there was no ball movement, Rick Jackson was shut down, and Louisville was absolutely killing Syracuse with their three point shooting, courtesy Preston Knowles and the Orange killer, Kyle Kuric, who always seems to have his finest game of the season against us.
And yet, somehow, with about 12 minutes left in the game, Syracuse decided they wanted to win the game. Whether this came from within, or Louisville backed off its pressure a little bit remains to be seen, but somehow, the Orange came thisclose to actually winning the game. They were down three with about a minute to play before the referees decided they didn’t want the game to extend to overtime, and called an absolutely awful foul on Jackson reaching in with three seconds left on the shot clock. The shot clock was reset, and the game was essentially sealed from there. The Cardinals hit their threes, and Syracuse just couldn’t get enough time back on the clock to win the game.
What now? Syracuse sits at 7-6, in the middle of the pack in the Big East. They’re assured of making the NCAA tournament, but continue to see their seed drop. They need to win their final three home games, and a road win at Villanova or Georgetown would go a long way, in both seeding and for their confidence. We can only hope that all these battles in the Big East are strengthening the Orange, yet with a team so young, and seemingly still unable to find a lineup that meshes well together, its hard to imagine this team making a deep run in March at this point.
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Written by Curt Bell