|Posted on February 5, 2018 at 10:25 PM|
Article by Dan Tortora
It is fitting that the Orange men's basketball team hails from Syracuse, New York, because their play this season has paralleled the weather.
This winter, the city of Syracuse has dealt with having 50-degree weather one day and a temperature of 12 degrees the next.
The ups and downs of the seemingly ever-changing weather in Syracuse has paralleled exactly how this season has gone for the Orange, with the team defeating the Georgetown Hoyas in overtime on the road, winning against the UConn Huskies on neutral grounds inside Madison Square Garden, and out-lasting the likes of the Maryland Terrapins at home in the Carrier Dome, but also having lost to the St. Bonaventure Bonnies at home and going on a four-game losing streak inside the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), including losses to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, and Notre Dame Fighting Irish, all of whom have struggled in ACC play this season.
So after a loss to the Virginia Cavaliers where the Orange scored 44 points in 40 minutes, once again, the on-lookers were left wondering what team would show up at the KFC Yum Center to face former Big East rival, the Louisville Cardinals, just two days later.
Louisville would begin the game with the advantage, when sophomore forward V.J. King connected on a deep shot to go ahead 3-0, but Syracuse junior point guard Frank Howard answered right back with his own three to tie the game.
Then, the Cardinals would hold the advantage for almost a full five minutes to follow before the Orange tied the game again, this time at 15-15 off of an old-fashioned three-point play by sophomore shooting guard Tyus Battle. Two free throws right after by Battle would give Syracuse their first lead of the game, 17-15, with 11:52 remaining before halftime.
There would be three ties from there in less than three minutes before the Orange took the advantage at the 8:33 mark and never let go for the rest of the first half, gaining the lead at 22-21 when true freshman forward Oshae Brissett went 2-for-2 from the charity stripe, and extending out to as much as a 10-point lead, at 39-29.
A last-second heave by freshman guard Darius Perry beat the halftime buzzer from just inside of half court to get the deficit to six for the Cardinals, with the Orange up 39-33 heading into the locker room.
In the second half, despite a push offensively by Louisville, Syracuse never rescinded the lead, holding onto the scoring advantage for the final 28 minutes and 33 seconds of the contest.
But there was a trying time for the Orange at the 16:56 mark of the second half, Brissett came out after picking up four fouls. He had 14 points and six rebounds at the time. Redshirt-freshmen forward Matthew Moyer took his place on the floor.
With 3:53 remaining in the game, Syracuse was reminded of what it is like to not have a deep team to lean on, with Brissett, junior center Paschal Chukwu, and true freshman forward Marek Dolezaj each playing with four fouls and both Howard and Moyer playing with three apiece.
At the 1:26 mark, Brissett had picked up foul #5, resulting in an end to his night and providing Louisville with two free shots, both of which King made to bring the Syracuse lead down to four, 71-67.
Fast forward a few seconds to about a minute remaining in the game, Battle went for a jumper right before the shot clock expired and Dolezaj met the ball on the other side of the rim, hitting the ball in off the glass with his right hand to extend the Orange out to a six-point advantage, 73-67, with 54.9 seconds to play.
Then, after going 3-for-19 from three-point range in the game, the Cardinals went 2-for-2 to bring themselves within one possession of the Orange on multiple occasions, when freshman forward Jordan Nwora connected on a shot from beyond the arc to make it 73-70 Syracuse with 30 seconds left and then sophomore guard Ryan McMahon made his own deep shot to get the Syracuse lead to 76-73 with 10 seconds to go.
Howard and Battle would answer during these instances by going a combined 5-for-6 from the free-throw line, with Battle making all of his last four tries from the charity stripe en route to a 78-73 win for the Orange.
Both players combined to score more than half of the team's 78 points, with Battle amounting 25 points and Howard attaining 22 points.
Junior forward Ray Spalding would lead Louisville with 18 points, coming off the bench in the game.
The win by Syracuse places them at the same overall record as Louisville, at 16-8, with the Orange moving to 5-6 in the ACC and the Cardinals now 6-5.
Another game in the books, and another change for Syracuse like the weather.
Luckily for the Orange, this weather forecast was a desirable one, something they hope to carry with them as they move forward.