A 7-0 run from the Orange put them in the lead briefly which brought fans in the Carrier Dome to their feet. The other storyline was how Louisville committed more fouls in the first few minutes than most of the first half. While there is no proof, it looked like the officials had heard a few too many complaints from coach Jim Boeheim and called some just to shut him up. It's a typical coaching move and Boeheim is famous for whining.
James Southerland kept Cuse in it with crucial triples, but Louisville could answer from NBA range with Luke Hancock, who looks so much more comfortable in the second half of the season with his stroke. Down low Dieng kept attacking the rim to get those critical points in the paint.
Coach Rick Pitino kept Siva on the bench and let Smith run the point with Hancock and Ware as the other ball handlers and it worked for a long time as Louisville maintained a slim lead and even on the lead changes, they kept Syracuse from breaking away. Siva came back in the game with a little over 3 minutes left. As soon as he did, the Orange went up by one.
Hancock, the recipient of the worst call Pitino had ever seen (his mouthed words with a choice expletive included), hit a triple late to give the Cards the lead for good. Kevin Ware earned his minutes with good play including a steal with 30 seconds to go. He nailed 2 clutch free throws with 12 seconds to go to seal the win.
For the Cards, Smith led the way with 18 points and 5 assists. Hancock had 12 on 4-of-5 three point shooting. Dieng provided the inside muscle with a double-double: 11 points and 14 rebounds.
Louisville has a quick turnaround as they play at the KFC Yum! Center on Monday against arch nemesis Cincinnati. That game tips at 7pm.
Photo: Louisville.com/Tim Girton