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Syracuse snaps losing streak to Louisville

Feb 14, 2012 - 3:36 AM Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - C.J. Fair scored 13 points, the last two on a go-ahead layup, and No. 2 Syracuse escaped with a 52-51 win Monday night to snap a seven-game losing streak to No. 19 Louisville.

"An unbelievable defensive struggle," said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim.

He undersold it.

Fair's layup, after Dion Waiters drove the lane and found him beneath the basket, capped a 6-0 run with 2:11 remaining in the game and neither team scored after that.

The Cardinals went cold over the final 3:38 after Chane Behanan's tip-in ended a 15-2 run to give them a five-point lead.

Fab Melo added 11 points and the Orange (26-1, 13-1 Big East) beat Louisville for the first time since a 79-66 victory at home on February 18, 2006.

Behanan had 16 points to pace the Cardinals (20-6, 8-5) and Chris Smith scored 10. Peyton Siva was scoreless after leading all players with eight points in the first half.

Louisville had a six-game overall winning streak snapped, while Syracuse won its sixth in a row since falling to Notre Dame last month.

The Cardinals, after roaring back, just couldn't finish the Orange off. They missed nine of their 21 free throw attempts.

"It was a defensive battle and they came up with the plays in the end. I am very, very disappointed that we lost the game because last year the same thing happened," said Louisville coach Rick Pitino.

"If you take both teams who are struggling with the other's defense then we made some really bad mental plays and took ourselves out of the dribble penetration. We have handled their zone really well in the past couple years because we had multiple guys dribble-penetrate... But when it comes down to it, it is very simple -- we didn't make free throws. That's what is so bothersome to me."

Trailing 44-36 with 7 1/2 minutes left, the Cardinals scored five straight points on a dunk by Behanan and a three by Smith to spark their 15-2 run. Later, Gorgui Dieng's three-point play tied the game and Smith knocked down a three from the left side in transition to give Louisville a 49-46 lead.

The Cardinals pushed their advantage to 51-46 on Behanan's tip, which followed a turnover by Syracuse's Kris Joseph, who fumbled the ball out of bounds, and a missed three-point try by Smith.

Brandon Triche hit a jumper at the other end and Melo made two free throws, drawing the Orange within a point and setting up Fair's go-ahead layup.

Earlier, Louisville took a 24-22 lead into the locker room despite going more than 10 minutes without a field goal near the end of the low-scoring first half.

Siva's three-pointer gave the Cardinals a 12-5 lead, but they went without a made field goal until Jared Swopshire's turnaround one-hander in the lane made it 21-20 with 1:31 left in the half.

Game Notes

Triche had eight points for Syracuse and Dieng scored nine for Louisville with a game-high 10 rebounds...The teams will meet again for their regular season finale on March 3 at Syracuse...Louisville still leads the all-time series 13-5.