Offensive woes give Syracuse its second loss of the season in a 66-60 Valentine's Day defeat by Louisville.

For the second straight game, the Orange took an early double-digit lead, then squandered it in the final minutes. This time, they couldn’t recover.

“You can’t be in all these games and get down to the end and think you’re going to win,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “You’ve got to play better during the game and tonight offensively we just were not good. And I think that’s the bottom line.”

Photo: Zach Ornitz
Syracuse center Arinze Onuaku attempts the block against Louisville center Samardo Samuels.

Just four days after the Orange held off a 16-point Connecticut comeback, Louisville successfully rallied from 11 points down to earn a 66-60 victory at the Carrier Dome. This was the Cardinals’ fifth straight victory against Syracuse and their first win this season against a ranked opponent. 

The Orange took their biggest lead of the game at the 8:23 mark of the first half at 22-11. From there the Cardinals chipped away and eventually climbed in front with just under two minutes left in the half. 

The teams then remained close, with neither side leading by more than four points until late in the second half.

The turning point for Louisville was a stretch in the last ten minutes of the game during which Samardo Samuels took over. The Cardinals’ center scored all eight of his points in a four-and-a-half minute stretch where his team went from trailing by three points to leading by seven. 

This was a lead they would never give up.

The full-court press and match-up zone used by Rick Pitino’s Cardinals frustrated the Orange throughout the game. Louisville limited its opponent to 41.4 percent shooting from the field, more than 11 percent below their season average.

“We got a little bit frustrated with their defense,” Boeheim said. “They played tremendous matchup, and they did a great job defensively… Our defense didn’t cost us the game. Our offense just wasn’t good enough.”

Wes Johnson in particular struggled for the Orange. Johnson connected on just five of his 20 field goal attempts and appeared to be out of rhythm. 

This may be a trend for Johnson.  He hasn’t been the same player since his flip against Providence, and a collision against Connecticut left Johnson’s shooting hand badly swollen. Since the fall against Providence, Johnson’s average has dipped more than six points per game while his shooting percentage has been cut nearly in half.

But Johnson’s poor shooting wasn’t the only area in which the Orange struggled offensively. Lousiville’s Edgar Sosa alone outplayed Orange point guards Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche. SU’s pair combined for six points, six assists and four turnovers in 40 total minutes. Sosa alone had 12 points and five assists while only turning the ball over twice.  And, with the exception of two transition baskets in the second half, the Cardinals held Andy Rautins in check. 

“We started attacking too late,” sophomore Kris Joseph said. “We should have been doing it since the start of the game.  We haven’t been playing Syracuse basketball for 40 minutes in the past couple games.”

Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim reacts to his team's performance against the Louisville Cardinals on Sunday, February 14 in the Carrier Dome. Syracuse lost to Louisville 66-60.  I ©2010_Zach Ornitz/TheNewsHouse.com

Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim reacts to his team's performance against the Louisville Cardinals.  (Photo: Zach Ornitz)

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