Free Throws. Free Throws. Free Throws.
Many will blame Peyton Siva’s lackluster pass in the closing seconds. Some will blame Rick Pitino choosing not to use his final time out. Others will point out UofL’s 16 turnovers. But with a game decided by the slimmest of margins; charity shots have to be made.
The Cardinals sunk 12 of 21 behind the line, an abysmal 57%.
Syracuse was able revert the Cardinals to its early season anemic self. Louisville had only seven field goals in the first half and shot a lackluster 34% from the field.
The offensive woes turned the match-up into a defensive battle with the Cardinals also holding the Orangemen to a 34% field goal percentage.
Despite their scoring struggle the Cardinals went into halftime up two points, but a big Syracuse surge gave them a 42-35 lead with 8:44 left in the game.
However, a 13-2 run would give Louisville a five point lead with three minutes remaining. But the Cards wouldn’t score again.
Down the stretch the Cardinals missed a lay-up by Chris Smith, a wide open three from Peyton Siva, and of course the final possession. Where Peyton Siva chose to pass in traffic to Gorgui Dieng despite an open Kyle Kuric in the corner. Siva admitted he didn’t see Kuric, but fans would even have been more pleased if Siva would have taken the shot himself as he has successfully done in the past.
Coach Rick Pitino was visibly upset after the game, saying that the Cardinals were “very disappointed with the loss.” He also noted that it “wasn’t a moral victory. ”
The loss snaps both Syracuse’s seven game losing streak to Louisville, and the Cards’ six game winning streak.
The Cardinals now face a two game road trip. First to bottom dweller DePaul and then a tricky tie at rival Cincinnati.
Louisville will get a second shot at Syracuse, when the Cards travel to the Carrier Dome for the final game of the season.
Two Final Thoughts
1. I hate blaming the officials, but one can’t ignore the atrocious officiating of Big East referee Jim Burr. Burr continued to show how he is the worst official in the conference with numerous questionable calls. No more so than the worst continuation call giving Scoop Jardin a three-point play, when the contact was made on the floor. Simply horrible. I salute my fellow students in their “Jim Burr sucks” chant.
2. I was able to talk to Edgar Sosa for a few moments after the game. He was incredibly gracious and is doing very well after the horrendous leg injury he suffered in Olympic Qualification last year. He spent thirty minutes after the game talking to various fans, and it was obvious that he has tons of love for his old Kentucky home. Sosa told me he hopes to be playing for my beloved Dominican Republic National Team in a few months, maybe even the Olympics if they qualify.