Rocking the 80s throwback uniforms, Kyle Kuric and Preston Knowles continued Louisville’s domination of Orangemen in stylish fashion. Kuric led the Cards with 23 points and Knowles followed with 22. The Cards benefited greatly from the return of Rakeem Buckles who hadn’t played since Dec 27. Louisville was at one point ahead of Syracuse by 20 points early in the second half, but Syracuse clawed its way back to close within 3 with 1:39 left. Clutch free throws from Peyton Siva and Chris Smith gave Rick Pitino the much-needed win.
The Cards shot prolifically behind the arc once again, scoring 48% of all three pointers. Preston Knowles put his shooting woes behind him by making half of 14 shots from the field, including 7 of 12 threes. Knowles’ three at the halftime buzzer was electrifying and pumped up the crowd. While Buckles added seven quality rebounds, he showed some rust turning the ball over five times in 14 minutes. Louisville destroyed Syracuse’s zone defense all afternoon, picking up countless easy buckets.
The Orangemen had a 21-4 run going deep in the second period, but collapsed in the closing moments. Brandon Tiche led Syracuse with 21 and Scoop Jardin followed with 20, but neither could control the game well in the final two minutes. Kris Joseph, the Orangemen’s leading scorer, might as well have stayed home. Joseph had only nine points from five attempts in the field with four rebounds. The loss was the sixth in eight games for the ‘Cuse, and another chapter in its disappointing run in Big East play.
The Cardinals visit Cincinnati on Wednesday, leading up to the much-anticipated rematch against Connecticut on Friday at the KFC Yum! Center. Coach Pitino said that Gorgui Dieng will be available Wednesday, as he has been practicing with the team this week. The Cards leave the Big East gauntlet with two huge wins against the top 15 and two respectable losses. UConn and number four Pittsburgh remain the only ranked teams left in the final six games of the regular season. With this win, the Cards have come much closer at locking up a NCAA tourney berth.
Blast from the Past
The school honored the 1986 NCAA championship squad during the game. The student section even arrived decked out in ’80s gear celebrating the team. Something about seeing Denny Crum always ramps up the home crowd at Louisville games. There was one notable absence, “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison wasn’t at the game. It’s a little disappointing that the best player on the championship team didn’t come back. David Robinson spoke on behalf of the Cards, commenting on their throwback unis, “they have the shirts now the just need the short shorts.” The dunking Cardinal will always be a signal of a legendary time in Cardinal basketball history. Perhaps, if the team performs so well with the throwbacks, they should do it more often.
Feel Good Story of the Week
On a frigid Thursday morning, Gorgui Dieng was running a little late to a morning class at UofL’s Strickler Hall. Suddenly a voice cried out, “Hey! Gorgui!”
Dieng turned, “Hey man.” Gorgui looked toward the young man in the wheelchair.
“Did you watch the game man?” the young man asked.
“Of course,” Gorgui replied.
“Hey man, Kyle really deserved that technical. You know he did,” the student said.
“I don’t know man, I don’t know, but I gotta go,” Gorgui said as he went into his class room.
“See ya, Gorgui!” the student replied.
That 15-second conversation made that young man’s day.