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March 2, 2013

Louisville wins in the Dome, 58-53




Big performances from Russ Smith, Luke Hancock and Gorgui Dieng helped No. 10 Louisville beat No. 12 Syracuse at the Carrier Dome Saturday. Tied at 48 with a minute left, a three by Hancock sparked the win.

Louisville (24-5) exacted revenge for a 70-68 home loss to Syracuse (22-7) on Jan. 19. That loss was the start of a three-game losing streak that sent Louisville from No. 1 in the nation to outside the top 15.

But since then, the two teams have been opposites. Louisville recovered from its three-game skid and won eight of its last nine games (save a 104-101 five-overtime loss at Notre Dame), and Syracuse is 5-6 in its last 11 games including Saturday's loss.

The struggling Orange were hoping to use a win over Louisville to right their ship before closing out the season after back-to-back losses. And, after an 8-0 run put Syracuse ahead 48-47 with 2:50 to go, it appeared the Orange were going to do just that.

But Louisville's notoriously stingy defense held the Orange to just one field goal (a three by C.J. Fair with four seconds left) in the final 2:50 as UofL pulled away.

The Cardinals pulled even on a 1-2 trip to the line by Smith with 1:37 left, and had a chance to increase their lead but Chane Behanan missed two free throws after he was fouled on a rebound putback off Smith's missed free throw.

After a missed layup by Triche, Hancock nailed a three with 50 seconds left to put UofL up 51-48. A missed three by Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams was rebounded by Smith and Triche fouled him.

Smith hit both free throws to increase Louisville's lead to five. A 1-2 trip to the line by Kevin Ware put Louisville up six, but the Orange gained two points back when Dieng was called for a foul on Triche with 16 seconds left.

Syracuse fouled on the inbounds play, and Ware hit two free throws with 12 seconds left. Fair's three cut the margin to 56-53 with four seconds left, but a pair of Smith free throws iced the win.

Smith finished with 18 points. Hancock had 12 on 4-5 shooting from three-point range and Dieng had 11 points and 14 rebounds. Fair led all scorers with 19.


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