Syracuse vs Louisville

Louisville upsets No. 1 'Cuse in final Freedom Hall game

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A reserve guard that Louisville coach Rick Pitino considers so bashful, he sounds shy even when he yells, made sure to send venerable Freedom Hall out with one more memorable game.

Kyle Kuric scored all of his career-high 22 points in the second half, and the Cardinals stunned No. 1 Syracuse 78-68 on Saturday before a record-crowd of 20,135 at the 54-year-old venue. It was the final game there before Louisville moves into a new downtown arena.

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"It's an unbelievable moment," Kuric said. "It's what every kid dreams of."

Kuric may have also assured Louisville (20-11, 11-7 Big East) a return trip to the NCAA tournament by sweeping the regular-season series from the Orange (28-3, 15-3), whose only other loss came against No. 17 Pittsburgh.

"These seniors have never gone to an NIT," Pitino said. "And now they never will."

Although Syracuse led by eight points late in the first half, Kuric was a one-man wrecking crew in the second. He made 9 of 11 shots -- including four 3-pointers -- to make for another happy ending at Freedom Hall, which has seen its share of historic games.

"There have been 54 years of great basketball, and for us to come out and beat the No. 1 team is a great going away present for all our fans," senior Edgar Sosa said.

Trailing 42-39 early in the second half, the Cardinals found their inside game with three straight baskets in the paint that gave them the lead for good. Kuric had two of them, a fastbreak dunk and layup.

In a span of just over five minutes, Kuric also had all four of his 3-pointers. After his second one, Syracuse's Scoop Jardine immediately answered with a 3, so Kuric simply answered right back with another one. Jardine finished with 20 points.

With under four minutes left, it was Kuric's dunk that pushed the Louisville lead to 10, and he got another one on a break that buried the Orange with under two minutes left.

"Everybody that comes off their bench is capable of hitting three or four 3s," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "He might be the best at doing that."

Louisville took 40 3-point attempts in the game, making 12 of them -- including three by Sosa, who had 12 points.

It was a completely different game in the first half, when Syracuse dominated the paint, getting 26 points there compared to 12 for the Cardinals.

Syracuse took an early 21-20 lead with more than six minutes to go in the first half on a dunk by Rick Jackson, then stretched it to a game-high eight points a couple minutes later after a 3-pointer and fastbreak layup by Jardine.

Sosa nailed a 3 seconds before halftime to make it 35-30 at the break.

Boeheim said Louisville seems to have deciphered the Orange's zone defense, and the players said they were having an off shooting night.

"We just weren't flowing in our offense," Arinze Onuaku said.

Although the Cardinals connected on 46 percent of their shots and the Orange 44 percent, the two were cold from the gate, combining for 11 shots but no points over the opening three minutes. Jerry Smith finally hit consecutive 3s for the Cardinals, and later turned in one of the more dazzling plays of the game, grabbing a steal out of midair and cruising the other way to finish with a one-handed dunk.

Smith was sidelined the second half after spraining the thumb on his right hand.

This one had all the pageantry of the final Louisville game in one of college basketball's most storied arenas. The stands were filled long before tipoff, and fans waved towels with glowing red flashlights during player introductions.

Pitino, sporting a bright red suit coat to match the attire of most fans in attendance, introduced the team's seniors before the game and expressed some sentimental thoughts about Freedom Hall.

"Never as a coach did I feel pressure," Pitino said. "Tonight I felt pressure for the first time. I woke up about 2:30 in the morning and said, 'What if we lose? No bid, the legends come all this way.' It was like a nightmare."

Freedom Hall has hosted six national championship games, a handful of NCAA tournament regional finals and 682 Louisville victories.

Denny Crum, who led the Cardinals to national titles in 1980 and 1986 and whose name is adorned on the court, was introduced at halftime alongside players from those teams.

"I love them all," Crum said. "It's just really fun to be here, be around them."

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
Edgar Sosa celebrates with Kyle Kuric, the hero of Freedom Hall's finale with a career-high 22 points.  (AP)
Edgar Sosa celebrates with Kyle Kuric, the hero of Freedom Hall's finale with a career-high 22 points. (AP)
Scoreboard
Syracuse #1 (28-3)353368
Louisville (20-11) «304878
SYR:Scoop Jardine 20 Pts
SYR:Rick Jackson 10 Reb
SYR:Scoop Jardine 6 Ast
LOU:Kyle Kuric 22 Pts
LOU:Samardo Samuels 9 Reb
LOU:Edgar Sosa 10 Ast

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PLAYERS OF THE GAME
LouisvilleSyracuse
LOU
Kyle Kuric
SYR
Scoop Jardine
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
22322026
Syracuse Orange
W. Johnson, F386-155-650418
A. Rautins, G381-90-04413
R. Jackson, F334-92-6101310
A. Onuaku, C307-100-272114
B. Triche, F130-21-23111
S. Jardine, G318-132-326120
K. Joseph, F171-40-02102
M. Jones, FDid Not Play
B. Reese, GDid Not Play
N. Resavy, GDid Not Play
D. Riley, FDid Not Play
J. Southerland, FDid Not Play
M. Tomaszewski, FDid Not Play
M. Lyde-Cajuste, FDid Not Play
G. Hoffman, GDid Not Play
Totals 27-6210-1933151168
 43.5%52.6% 
Louisville Cardinals
E. Sosa, G323-120-011019
S. Samuels, F304-74-691212
R. Delk, G182-70-01005
T. Jennings, F143-30-13126
J. Smith, G133-70-04018
J. Swopshire, F304-62-282210
P. Knowles, G271-70-08533
K. Kuric, G199-110-032122
P. Siva, G81-30-02323
R. Buckles, F60-00-01110
M. Marra, G30-20-00000
C. Brickley, GDid Not Play
G. Goode, FDid Not Play
R. Phares, FDid Not Play
C. Smith, GDid Not Play
S. Van Treese, FDid Not Play
Totals 30-656-940251578
 46.2%66.7% 
Big East
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
St. Johns0-05-029
Villanova0-05-0202
Xavier0-05-050
Georgetown0-03-0200
Creighton0-04-138
Providence0-04-144
Seton Hall0-04-118
Butler0-03-1110
Marquette0-03-258
DePaul0-01-2187

Conference USA
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
La. Tech0-05-020
Middle Tenn.0-04-131
Old Dominion0-04-133
So. Miss0-02-1294
Marshall0-03-2254
North Texas0-03-2244
UT-San Antonio0-03-2197
UAB0-03-3297
Charlotte0-02-2288
Western Ky.0-02-2312
FAU0-02-3260
FIU0-02-3342
UTEP0-01-3323
Rice0-01-4278
 
Other games
Cincinnati 47 Final
GTOWN 74
Tx A&M 69 Final
Oklahoma 54
W Virg 68 Final
NOVA 66
MD 74 Final
Virginia 68
G Wash 57 Final
Temple 70
Kansas 77 Final
Missouri 56
SC 77 Final
VANDY 73
Purdue 64 Final
PSU 60
STBN 72 Final
XAV 93
Texas 77 Final
Baylor 92
RUT 54 Final
PITT 83
Iowa St 85 Final
K-State 82
Tenn 75 Final
Miss St 59
BYU 107 Final
TCU 77
Wisc-Mil 59 Final
Butler 68
NC 50 Final
DUKE 82
UAB 50 Final
UTEP 52