Carter-Williams sparks Syracuse rally at top-ranked Louisville

Rick Cushing, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- When it came down to crunch time, sophomore Michael Carter-Williams made the big plays as No. 6 Syracuse closed the game with a 13-6 run and knocked off No. 1 Louisville 70-68 Saturday in the KFC Yum! Center before a record crowd of 22,814.
Louisville (16-2, 4-1 Big East) had taken a 62-57 lead with 7:37 left, but the Cardinals made just one basket (plus four free throws) the rest of the way as the Orange (17-1, 5-0) rallied for the upset. Carter-Williams had two steals, three free throws, a layup, a dunk and a 3-point basket during that span. Carter-Williams finished with 16 points, getting 10 of them in the final 7:22. None was bigger than his steal and dunk with 23 seconds left that gave the Orange the lead for good at 69-68.
"Michael is the most athletic player I've ever coached," said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who notched his 907th victory, second all-time. "He is a big-time player. He's got a lot of heart. When he got the steal (with Louisville leading 68-67) I knew he had to dunk it because (Gorgui) Dieng was coming, and he would have blocked it if Michael had tried to lay it in. Then he got back down and made another steal (with five seconds left). He is just a big-time player that makes plays."
Brandon Triche led the Orange with 23 points, 18 of which came in the first half, when he hit all seven of his shots, including four 3-pointers. Two other Syracuse players were in double figures, C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant, each with 10 points. Syracuse had a 36-31 rebounding edge but made 16 turnovers while Louisville turned it over only nine times.
"Brandon kept us is the game in the first half," Boeheim said. "It was a very tough game. We found a way to win. We battled. It was the same kind of game as last year when we played them down here. We had to duke it out. It came down to a steal at the end then, too. (Syracuse won that game 52-51 on Feb. 13, 2012.)"
"They made some really terrific defensive plays down the stretch, and that was the game," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "They made the shots when it counted and we didn't, so you have to give them credit."
Russ Smith led Louisville with 25 points, but he was the only Cardinal in double figures. Dieng, Louisville's 6-11 junior center, had just four points and missed 4 of 5 shots, and senior point guard and co-captain Peyton Siva had only three points and missed 8 of 9 shots, including 6 of 7 3-point tries. He also made the pass that Carter-Williams stole and dunked to give Syracuse the 69-68 lead with 23 seconds to go.
Louisville then rushed downcourt and got the ball inside to Wayne Blackshear, but he missed a layup in heavy traffic and committed a foul in a wild scramble for the rebound. Carter-Williams made the first free throw to give the Orange a 70-68 lead but missed the second. Louisville rushed downcourt again and got the ball inside to Dieng, but Carter-Williams stole it from him with five seconds left and threw it upcourt to Fair as time ran out.
"We ran a play to get Russ the ball in the corner, and Russ didn't get to the corner," Pitino said.
The Cardinals shot only 40.7 percent, including 29 percent in the second half.
"It was a great basketball game," Pitino said. "They made the plays at the end. Give them the credit. We shot only 29 percent in the second half, but they had a lot to do with that. We didn't play bad. They just played better, and we made some mistakes in crunch time."
The score was tied at 38 at the half. Syracuse got away to an 11-3 lead, but Louisville went on a 16-7 run to go ahead 19-18. The Cardinals then appeared to take control with a 13-7 run to lead 32-25 with 4:21 left in the half. But Triche scored 10 points over the ensuing two minutes, including two 3-point shots, as the Orange tied it at halftime.
NOTES: For the second straight game, Syracuse senior forward James Southerland was ineligible because of undisclosed NCAA sanctions. The 6-8 Southerland was averaging 13.6 points (second on the team) and 5.2 rebounds (third on the team). He hadn't started any games but was fourth on the team in minutes played.

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