Late spurt lifts Louisville past SyracuseFeb 19, 2008 - 5:55 AM LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Ticker) -- Louisville used a late surge to keep pace with Georgetown in the Big East Conference and deny Syracuse another resume-building upset.
Terrence Williams scored all 12 of his points in the second half and the 23rd-ranked Cardinals broke open a close game in the final minutes to post a 61-50 victory over the Orange on Monday.
One of five Big East teams in the Top 25, the Cardinals (21-6, 11-3 Big East) maintained their share of first-place tie in the conference with Georgetown with Monday's win.
"The guys really did a great job of focusing on what we needed to do to win. The key tonight was transition defense and rebounding," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "We knew we had to win it off defense. They are very long and they don't give you a whole lot of good looks."
Coming off Saturday's 80-72 victory at Providence, a team Pitino guided to the Final Four in 1987, Louisville had its lead cut to 52-50 with 2:30 to play on a jumper by Syracuse's Arinze Onuaku.
The Cardinals responded by scoring the last nine points of the game to run their winning streak to six straight.
Williams answered Onuaku's hoop with a baseline jumper to put Louisville ahead, 54-50, with just under two minutes to play. After a Syracuse miss, Andre McGee made it 57-50 with a 3-pointer with 53 seconds left.
"The offense was fine in the first half. I just think that we missed shots due to their defense, you have to give them credit," Pitino said. "We did a better job in the second half. T-Will did a great job of doing what (Paul) Harris does for them. Getting the ball in the middle of the zone and taking it to the basket for those little short jump shots. And Harris does the same thing for them."
McGee added 12 points for Louisville - all on 3-pointers - and Jerry Smith capped the win with a pair of breakaway dunks in the closing seconds.
Syracuse (17-10, 7-7) came into the game on a high, having upset Georgetown, 77-70, on Saturday. In the middle of the pack in the conference and looking to bolster their NCAA tournament hopes, the Orange could not pull off another upset as they had a turnover that led to a Smith dunk and four missed shots after Onuaku pulled them within two.
The rough finish was typical of the Orange's struggles throughout the game. Syracuse shot just 29 percent (16-of-55) from the field and allowed 19 offensive rebounds that led to 19 second-chance points for Louisville.
"Obviously, teams struggled to shoot the ball tonight," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "I think the game just came down to offensive boards. They really did a great job on the boards and we didn't - that was the game. Both teams really struggled around the rim."
Onuaku scored 16 points and Harris added 13 for Syracuse, which has lost three of its last four games.
"I thought we did a great job at the end getting it to two," Boeheim said. "Instead, Williams hit a big shot in the corner and we did a bad job on the fast break and that was the ballgame. This team battled as hard as you ask it to."
Louisville now leads the all-time series, 8-4.
- NCAA BB
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
SYRACUSE 26 24 50
LOUISVILLE (23) 26 35 61 FINAL
Feb 18 8:52 PM
- NCAA BB
(23) LOUISVILLE 26 HALFTIME
Feb 18 7:50 PM
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