No. 4 Louisville held No. 19 Syracuse without a field goal for nearly 11 minutes in the second half, erasing an eight-point Orange lead to come away with a 78-61 win Saturday night in the final game of the conference in its current configuration. Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dane are leaving for the ACC next season. Louisville is departing for the ACC in two years. The Cardinals (29-5) claimed their third conference tournament title. Their star guard, Peyton Siva, was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player for the second straight year. He joins Georgetown's Patrick Ewing (1984 and 1985) as the only two-time winner. Siva had four steals in the game to set a new career tournament record with 29, breaking Pittsburgh's Brandin Knight's mark of 28 in 2003. Syracuse (26-9) led 47-39 with 12:50 to play, then hit a historic scoring drought, failing to score a basket until 1:48 left to play. During that stretch, Louisville outscored the Orange 34-11 to take a commanding 73-58 lead. Freshman forward Montrez Harrell led the Louisville barrage with nine points. He finished with a team-best 20 points. The backcourt tandem of Peyton Siva and Russ Smith added six each in the run. Syracuse was led by C.J. Fair's 21 points. "In order to get that type of defensive pressure, where you're conditioning, where all that hustle is a factor, you have to take good shots and we took good shots in the second half," said Louisville coach Rick Pitino. "Peyton (Siva) said, 'you doubt us?' I said, 'I didn't doubt you, but I had to wake you guys up.' " A combination of Louisville's pressure and the task of playing four games in four days wore down the Orange. Syracuse turned the ball over 24 times in the second half, which led to 25 Louisville points off turnovers. "Our press is pretty much like controlled chaos," said Siva. The Orange shot 33 percent from the field in the second half. "I think Louisville's the hardest team for us to play at the end of four days," said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. "It's very difficult to go back and go against a pressing team in the last game in the fourth day. "They are in my mind one of the best pressing teams in the country. I thought they were the best team in the league from the beginning of the year and they proved that today." Louisville took the lead for good at 49-48 on a dunk from Harrell with 9:50 to play. The Cardinals trailed by as many 16 points, 45-29, with 15:51 left, before going on an 8-0 burst to get to within eight at 45-37. The pressure defense in the first half didn't click for Louisville because it wasn't patient in its half-court sets on offense. It scored eight points off the fast break in the first half and none in the patient second half. "Our defense wasn't great in the first half because our offense was quick shooting," Pitino said, "and we're not a quick shooting team. So we put ourselves in a whole by not moving the basketball and working the high-low. "In the second half we started working the high post and that opened up the corners and then we started getting our pressure on. You can only press on a make." Louisville suffered through its worst half of shooting this season, converting just 7 of 27 shots from the floor for 25.9 percent in the first half. It also failed to produce any significant points off turnovers, a trademark for Pitino's team. Syracuse led 35-20 on the strength of Michael Carter-Williams' nine points and six assists. The Cardinals closed to 17-15 before the Orange went on an 18-5 run to end the half. Carter-Williams fueled the run with all of his nine points. Louisville went nearly five minutes before making its first basket, going 0 of 8 from the field and trailing 8-0. Syracuse was in search of its sixth championship. It also won the tournament in 1981, 1988, 1992, 2005 and 2006. Syracuse departs the conference as the most successful school in the storied history of the Big East. Its 366 regular-season wins are the most of any team in the league. NOTES: Carter-Williams accumulated 36 assists in three Big East Tournament games. ... Pitino was an assistant coach for two seasons on Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim's first staff (1976-78). ... The Cardinals defeated the Orange 76-66 in the 2009 Big East tournament final. ... The Big East Tournament team consisted of Russ Smith (Louisville), Brandon Triche and James Southerland (Syracuse), Markel Starks (Georgetown) and Pat Connaughton (Notre Dame). ... Southerland set a tournament record for 3-pointers with 19.
- Sports & Recreation
- Peyton Siva