Louisville was able to hold off Syracuse in overtime as the No. 8 Cardinals held on for a 76-72 ACC road win over the Orange on Monday night. With a chance to tie with two free throws with 2.7 seconds left, Syracuse senior missed both of them.
After blowing a late lead in regulation the Cardinals were able to rally in overtime and hold on once again during a late Syracuse charge as the Orange lost their second straight game.
Donovan Mitchell led Louisville with 16 points while Quentin Snider had 14 points as five Cardinals finished in double figures.
The win keeps Louisville tied for second in the ACC with a crowded field at the top. With the NCAA tournament men’s basketball selection committee naming Louisville as a No. 2 seed — and No. 7 overall — this was a solid road win over a potential tournament team.
Here are two takeaways from this one:
1. Louisville needs to figure out how to close
Louisville will certainly take a conference road win against a team like Syracuse but this game also offered a disturbing trend in which the Cardinals nearly blew late leads in both regulation and overtime.
Now that Snider has returned from injury, the Cardinals have plenty of backcourt options to help close out games but Louisville continually missed free throws and had some poor offensive possessions while holding the lead late.
When Snider was out with injury, Louisville really seemed to get in an offensive groove as they were putting up a lot of points while getting some blowout wins. Things have slowed down with Snider back in the lineup and I still think he and Mitchell are figuring out the best way to share the ball and co-exist in the Louisville backcourt.
Syracuse also wanted to keep the tempo a bit slower than Louisville usually likes to play with its zone but the Cardinals offense spent time sputtering at the end of both halves.
Deng Adel will have better games than his off-night on Monday but the Cardinals need to figure a few things out on offense during this final regular season stretch.
2. Syracuse missed another chance at a signature win
With the Orange currently fighting hard for one of the last at-large bids in the NCAA tournament, this is the kind of loss that could come back to bite Syracuse. While Louisville certainly deserves credit for the win, the Orange’s offense was very stagnant for a good portion of the second half.
Now with two consecutive losses, Syracuse needs to finish at least .500 to feel comfortable heading into the ACC tournament. The Orange get two games with Georgia Tech — and winning in Atlanta has not been easy this season — as well as a home game against Duke and a road return to Louisville.
We’ve seen that the Orange can go toe-to-toe with the Cardinals but it feels like Syracuse might need to beat either Duke or Louisville to feel comfortable.
Syracuse also deserves credit for two late comebacks when they could have quit fighting. Most of the team struggled offensively. Senior Andrew White was only 2-for-14 from three-point range but he still figured out ways to score late as he totaled 22 points.