LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Syracuse weathered the initial emotional blast from Louisville and took control of the game in the final five minutes of the first half, toting a 35-30 lead into the locker room.
Down 20-19, the Orange got its running game on track and started beating the Cardinals downcourt for dunks or open threes in its half-court offense. Syracuse scored on five of six possessions in one stretch late in the half and pushed its lead as high as eight points before an Edgar Sosa three cut the deficit to five at intermission.
As usual, Syracuse got contributions from all seven of its starters, as Jim Boeheim is fond of saying. His bench is short but productive, led in the first half by Scoop Jardine's nine points and four assists in only 12 minutes.
Louisville's only answer to the sticky Syracuse zone has been to bombard the rim with three-point shots. The Cardinals launched 24 threes and just 10 twos in the half. They made six of 24 threes and six of 10 twos, and not surprisingly only attempted one free throw.
Either the Cards must start lighting it up from the outside or change their attack in the second half. And their chances of lighting it up from the outside could be compromised if guard Jerry Smith doesn't regain his stroke after injuring his right hand during the first half. Smith scored Louisville's first eight points but did not score another point prior to halftime.