Michael Carter-Williams responded to missing a game-tying free throw quite nicely, as he got a steal off of an errant Peyton Siva pass and went the other way, dunking on Gorgui Dieng to put the Orange up 69-68 with 25 seconds left.
Wayne Blackshear would get his shot blocked at the rim on the next possession, and after Carter-Williams once again hit just one-of-two free throws, Siva again threw the ball away trying to hit Dieng under the rim, and the Orange hung on, beating the No. 1 team in the country on the road, 70-68.
Brandon Triche was the best player on the floor for much of the game for the Orange, scoring 23 points and hitting five threes as he kept Syracuse within striking distance during a stretch early in the first half where it seemed like the Orange were more comfortable throwing the ball to Louisville than to their own team.
Carter-Williams was the main culprit. While he finished with 16 points, seven assists, four steals and the game-winning play, he was one of the biggest reasons that Syracuse was in that position late down the stretch; 4-13 shooting and eight turnovers for your starting point guard is a good way to dig a hole. But towards the end of the second half, all that changed. The Orange stopped turning the ball over. They had 13 turnovers in the first 24 minutes of the game. They had two in the last 16 minutes, outscoring Louisville 30-20 during that stretch. Limiting turnovers stopped Louisville from getting out in transition, which forced the Cardinals to try and beat the Syracuse zone in the half court.
Louisville couldn’t do that.
And Syracuse got the win.
Perhaps the most impressive part about this win was the Syracuse was able to do it without James Southerland on the floor. Southerland, Jim Boeheim’s second-leading scorer and best three-point shooter, is out indefinitely as a result of an academic issue and it’s unclear when he will be back in the lineup. This win is an indication that not having Southerland at their disposal is not as big of an issue as we might have anticipated.
The win vaults Syracuse to 5-0 in the Big East, while Louisville drops a game behind the Orange and Marquette (who play at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday) in the loss column.
The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.
The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.
They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.
That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.
Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:
With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.
At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes
“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:
“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”
“It’s all money.”
Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.
Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .
Want to talk about coaching luxuries?
Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.