Big East Tournament Championship Game
(2) Louisville 78 (5) Syracuse 61
This matchup was set up to be a historic game for the Big East Conference because of the impending departures of these two programs to the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Orange after this season and the Cardinals after next season in the league that currently has no name. Once you add this kind of feeling to a game that already features two schools of such quality, you’re sure to see a game to remember.
Louisville will remember this game with great fondness. Syracuse will try to forget it.
Once the game clock started to tick down in the first half, this game did not disappoint. Syracuse got off to the quicker start on the the floor, using its long-range shooting to accomplish it. James Southerland broke the all-time record for three-pointers made in a Big East Tournament as part of the Orange’s early surge. Louisville, of course, was not to be written off just because it got off to a bad start on offense. The Cardinals used their tenacious defense to get back into this fight, bringing the score close by about halfway though the first half. As the half was winding down, though, it was the superior shooting of the Orange that was controlling the scoreboard. By the time the game clock read all zeros at halftime, it was 35-22 in favor of Syracuse.
In the starting moments of the second half, things looked like they were going to go Louisville’s way, but then the coach of the Orange, Jim Boeheim, smartly took an early timeout to prepare his team for the high-pressure defense of the Cardinals. Syracuse came back out with the right look to get the job done, because between that early team timeout and the first media timeout, the Orange jacked the score back up, leaving it 45-29 with just under 16 minutes left. Then, however, Southerland went to the bench with his fourth foul, and the momentum began to shift.
This game being far from over, the Cardinals then scored the next ten points which forced Syracuse to call another timeout to recompose itself again. Once more, it seemed to work, settling the game into a back-and-forth style where the score changed but the Orange’s lead had stayed the same. Then this matchup took on a whole new look. Louisville completely took over all of the momentum, powering and harassing its way though a 27-3 run to take control of this game. Syracuse just looked lost on the court, and all of the earlier timeouts by the Orange left them with only one with more than eight minutes still to go. They had to just figure out how to play though it without help from their coach.
In the end, the Orange just could not recover from all the pressure the Cardinals used to destroy their confidence. As a result, the scoreboard deficit grew and grew. (Syracuse went over eleven minutes without a field goal.) The final numbers, which recorded a 17-point Louisville victory in this historic game, are all that anyone needs to see to understand a tale of two very different halves.