Free Throw- a shot that is given to a player once a foul has been committed by an opponent. 8- how many points Louisville lost due to missing "free" throws, going 12-21 for the game & 1-5 in the final critical minutes. 1- how many points the Louisville Cardinals (20-6, 8-5 Big East) lost by, to the #2 ranked Syracuse Orangeman (26-1, 13-1). You do the math.
"It's very simple, we didn't make free throws- that's what's so bothersome to me," an angry Rick Pitino said following the 52-51 loss. "Not that we didn't lose to a good basketball team, but (shooting) 12 for 21 with the amount of time we spend on it is inexcusable," Rick Pitino remarked.
Despite its efforts to throw away the game. The Cardinals still had a chance with 20 seconds remaining to win the game. Peyton Siva drove to the basket attempting to hit a game winning lay-up- like he has done many times in his career- instead, he turned the ball over when he failed to connect his pass with Sophomore Gourgi Dieng.
"I just made the wrong decision," The Louisville guard said. "I didn't see Kyle wide-open in the corner, but I won't make that mistake again,"
It's quite fitting that the game ended on a turnover for Louisville. Committing 16 turnovers on the night, as the tight zone defense of Syracuse rinked havoc like never before. Syracuse Coach Jim Boehim credited the 7 foot Center Fab Melo with forcing the turnovers. Telling Melo to "stay off" of Siva when he drove the lane, to avoid giving him open passing lanes. At the end of the game, he listened, allowing Syracuse Forward Kris Joseph to intercept the pass.
Pitino was questioned about not using his remaining timeout to diagram a play, his response:
"We had the play. We went over the play the timeout before. They like to trap out of it. We diagrammed the play before, we just took the wrong angle," Pitino Said.
In that situation, personally I feel that you should call a timeout. In a tie game, it's a totally different situation. However when it's either win or lose, I believe that you take a timeout and calm Siva down, especially when he had committed the same turnover minutes before. But I guess that's why I'm telling you about what happened, instead of being in charge of what actually occur.
For the majority of the game the prettiest thing found on the court was probably the white suit worn by Pitino, who supported the promotional "White-Out" game with his threads. For over 10 minutes, Louisville failed to convert a single field goal and still held a two point advantage at half-time. Pitino politely called it a "defense battle":
"It was a defensive battle and they came up with the plays at the end," Pitino Said. "We had handled their zone well in the past because we had multiple guys to penetrate. Tonight we only had one able to do it and he took himself out of the game,"
Pitino was referring to Louisville guard Peyton Siva, who, at one point, looked to be the guard Louisville fans had longed for- outscoring the entire Syracuse team 8 to 7. Siva, however, picked up his third foul midway through the 1st half and sit till the 12 minute mark of the 2nd half.
His departure resulted in Russ Smith having to run the point and consequently, causing him to commit four turnovers in just 5 minutes of play at that position. Following this, Sophomore Guard Elijah Justice had to play key minutes and he was unable to penetrate the lane as successfully.
When Peyton Siva did return he was able to spark a 12-2 run by Cardinals, getting Freshman Chane Bohanon involved, who finished with a team high 16 points. This run, gave the Cardinals a 5 point led around the 3 minute mark, when guard Chris Smith hit a three. This would be the final bucket for the Cardinals, as Syracuse scored the games final six points.
Having a seven point lead turn into a five point deficit late in the 2nd half, on the road, would be something that most teams couldn't overcome. That was'nt the case for Syracuse on this night.
This loss snapped a six-game winning streak for the Cardinals and a seven-game winning streak against Syracuse in the series.
The Cardinals simply lost a game they should have won. This is what separates the 2/3 seeds in the NCAA Tourney between the 5/6 seeds. This is what separates the teams that get double-byes in the Big East Tourney and the ones that get single byes. More importantly, this is what separates teams that go to the Final Four, from the ones that flame out early in the tourney. Tonight, Louisville was the better team, not by just a few points but by double-digits. They could have won and should have. Instead they missed free-throws and committed silly turnovers that gave the game away (rest assure Syracuse didn't win, Louisville gave it away).
"We just got to keep on moving," Guard Chris Smith said following the loss to Syracuse. "We just gotta cut our losses and bounce back,"
Louisville will hope to do that when they face Depaul this weekend.