Jim Boeheim's team still had life, with their tournament hopes on its last legs, needing a win over 11th ranked Louisville to bolster their resume.
The Cardinals had none of it.
Chris Mack's team was on a 2-game losing skid, including being thouroughly outplayed by Clemson, losing by 15. That Monday, Louisville (22-5, 13-3 ACC) held a players-only meeting, and after a "spirited" week of practice according to the ESPN broadcast, the Cardinals earned a wire-to-wire victory over the Orange (14-12, 7-8 ACC), winning 90-66.
This was a highly anticipated matchup, with Louisville struggling and Syracuse playing with its life on the line, with 5 ACC losses decided by 5 or fever. The two leading scorers in the conference were squaring off, with Elijah Hughes (18.5 PPG) and Jordan Nwora (18.2 PPG) headlining the conference.
The Orange rallied in the first half after being down 13, and had the game within a managable 7 at half. In the second half, the lid came off for the Cardinals.
They made 10 total threes, shooting 41.7% on the night from downtown. They outrebounded the Orange 44-35, and once again, foul trouble and/or general incompetence from the Syracuse frontcourt only made the game unravel further.
A recent article in the Athletic interviewed ACC coaches and anonomously published their opinions on every team in the conference. While one coach said the Orange "have a lot of skill in the backcourt...if Hughes and Buddy Boeheim don't play well, they can't win. It's that simple."
That coach may be right. Hughes and Boeheim combined to shoot 9-28 (32%), and fellow guard Joe Girard III shot 4-14. The rest of the team didn't fare much better, with the team totaling 38% from the field and only 27% from three.
The Orange look to turn the spirits around and finish the season strong Saturday, February 22nd, when Georgia Tech visits the Dome. You can watch this game at 4pm, televised on the YES Network.