No. 2 Syracuse beats Louisville by one point

Orange drops the Cardinals for the first time in the past eight meetings

It was close, a little too close.

It was a back and forth battle between No. 2 Syracuse (26-1, 13-1) and No. 18 Louisville (20-6, 8-4), but the Orange used a 6-0 run in the final minutes to pull off the 52-51 victory over the Cardinals at the KFC Yum! Center. The win snaps a seven-game losing streak for the Orange against the Cardinals, and gives them a two-game lead over Marquette in the Big East.

Sophomore forward C.J. Fair made the go-ahead basket with 2:11 remaining in the game, and the Orange held the Cardinals without a point for the final three minutes in the win. Fair finished the night with a team high of 13 points and five rebounds.

The Orange did not shoot well in the win, especially from long-range. Syracuse was 21-for-61 from the floor (34 percent) and 1-15 from behind the arc (0.7 percent). Surprisingly, Syracuse was only outrebounded 37-39 in the win, something coach Jim Boeheim has tried to correct all season.

Three thoughts:

1. When SU makes threes, they are deadly when they don’t they become a pedestrian team…

In the win against UConn, the Orange made 10-of-16 from 3-point range. That ended up being the difference in the win. However, Syracuse only made one of 17 shots from behind the arc against Louisville, and won by a single point. When Kris Joseph, Brandon Triche, Dion Waiters, Scoop Jardine and even James Southerland hit the three, Syracuse is very hard to stop because they are already a very potent offensive team. But when they miss as many shots as they did against Louisville, they become extremely one-dimensional and very easy to defend. In games where the Orange made at least eight 3-pointers, they are undefeated and have had a winning margin greater than seven points. Sometimes, Syracuse can make up for poor 3-point shooting with exceptional post play and defense, but that has only helped them against teams that are at the bottom of the Big East.

2. C.J. Fair offers a unique presence for the Orange…

The 6-foot-8-inch forward had his second straight strong performance for Syracuse. Coming off the bench, Fair was great on offense and defense, scoring a team high of 13 points and adding five rebounds. Against Connecticut, Fair had 14 points and 12 rebounds. Fair had his ups and downs during the season, but has been a big factor in Syracuse’s recent success in the Big East. He is a unique player in the post because he is a great defender, a great rebounder and a great scorer. It will be interesting to see how much Syracuse uses Fair in the future after these last two strong performances.

3. Waiters may be getting a little too bigheaded…

In the last three games, Waiters has been marginally productive. Not only that, but he seems to be taking shots when the game is on the line. Tonight, he had the ball with under a minute remaining and missed a basket that would have given the Orange a three-point lead. Against Georgetown, he also was the man to shoot the last shot before overtime, a shot that he also missed. Waiters has been pretty dominant in his sophomore season, but has not been as great as he was earlier in the season.

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