By halftime Saturday, there were plenty of questions being asked about Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams. But the sophomore rebounded from a shaky start against top-ranked Louisville and made several key plays down the stretch to lead No. 6 Syracuse to a 70-68 win.
Carter-Williams, who leads the nation in assists, made a steal leading to a dunk in the final 30 seconds to give his team the lead. He also ripped the ball away from Louisville big man Gorgui Dieng in the waning moments preventing a tying shot attempt underneath the basket.
Now the question is, who's next at No. 1?
Will it be Duke again? Kansas? Michigan?
Do the Orange have a shot at claiming the top spot in the polls? They're probably not going to leapfrog the five teams ahead of them in this week's AP poll, but they showed they belong in the conversation by beating Louisville on its home floor.
The victory for Carter-Williams and his teammates should help some forget Syracuse's lone loss to Temple before Christmas, a game in which the Orange missed 15 free throws and made fewer than 20 percent of its 3-pointers.
Syracuse improved to 4-7 against the No. 1 team in the nation, with all of those victories coming against Big East teams. Carter-Williams scored 18 points with seven assists and eight turnovers.
During parts of the first half Saturday, Syracuse and Carter-Williams in particular, looked ill-suited to handling the pressure the Louisville defense brings. Carter-Williams was a turnover machine. But senior Brandon Triche brought some poise to the court for the Orange, making all seven of his shots in the first half. He finished with 23 points, the third time this month he has scored at least 20.
Guard Russ Smith was the only Louisville player to score in double figures. He led all scorers with 25 points, but he needed 18 shots to get there.
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