Shorthanded Syracuse Knocks Off Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Syracuse entered Monday night’s game at Louisville on a two-game losing streak and with just six healthy scholarship players. That was enough for the Orange to walk out with their biggest win of the season.

Tyus Battle scored 25 points to lead Syracuse to a 78-73 victory over Louisville Monday night.

“This was our best win in a long time,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said.

Syracuse (16-8, 5-6) never trailed in the final 28:33. However, the Cardinals (16-8, 6-5) made it interesting down the stretch against the Orange.

Syracuse led 65-53 with 7:36 remaining, but Louisville pulled within 67-65 after two free throws from Ray Spalding with 4:05 left. The Cardinals then went more than two minutes without a basket.

Spalding, who did not start after injuring his ankle in Saturday’s loss to Florida State, finished with 18 points and nine rebounds.

Jordan Nwora hit a 3-pointer for Louisville with 27 seconds left to get within 73-70, but the Cardinals would not get a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds. Battle, who made all 11 of his free throws, sank four of them in the final 11 seconds to secure the victory.

“It shows the true character of a team,” said Frank Howard, who added 22 points for Syracuse. “Like I’ve been saying all year, we’re fighters. We got a team full of soldiers. … We want to build off this.”

Both Howard and Battle shot 7 of 15 from the floor Monday. Boeheim credited his backcourt duo’s shooting for lifting the Orange to the win.

Oshae Brisett added 16 for Syracuse.

Anas Mahmoud and Deng Adel finished with 10 each for Louisville, who made just of 5 of 21 3-pointers against the Orange’s zone defense.

BIG PICTURE

Syracuse: The second-worst shooting team in the Atlantic Coast Conference shot 47.2 percent, its third-best mark in conference play. Every time it seemed like Louisville would claw its way back into the contest, an Orange player would step up to make a big basket.

Louisville: The Cardinals lost their third straight game, the first time they’ve done that since the 2012-13 season. That squad ended up winning the national championship, but this team finds itself squarely on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament.

Defense has been a big issue for Louisville in its current skid, as the Cardinals have allowed opponents to shoot 45 percent or better in their last four games.

“We haven’t played very well these last couple games, and it’s 100 percent up to me as the head coach to get it figured out,” interim coach David Padgett said. “We will.”

HE SAID IT

“It’s interesting that the other three coaches are still coaching. I don’t know if that means anything or not,” Boeheim, talking about his long-time friend and former Louisville coach Rick Pitino. Pitino was removed as coach in September just before the start of practices and fired officially less than a month later after the FBI announced it was investigating the school as part of a bribery scandal. The Syracuse coach added that he felt Pitino has been one of the two best coaches in the modern college era.

STAT OF THE NIGHT

The two consecutive home losses for Louisville means the 2017-18 season will be the first with more than one home conference loss since the 2014-15 season, the Cardinals first in the ACC. Over the last six years, Louisville has a 41-10 conference record at the KFC Yum Center.

No. 19 WEST VIRGINIA 75,

No. 17 OKLAHOMA 73

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Lamont West scored 17 points, and No. 19 West Virginia survived a 32-point night from Oklahoma’s Trae Young to escape with a 75-73 win over the 17th-ranked Sooners.

Esa Ahmad and Sagaba Konate each scored 14 and Jevon Carter added 10 points, eight assists and six steals for the Mountaineers (18-6, 7-4 Big 12), who swept the regular-season series and moved within a half-game of conference co-leaders Kansas and Texas Tech.

Young, the freshman who leads the nation in scoring and assists, had just one assist.

Brady Manek scored 12 points and Khadeem Lattin had 13 rebounds and four blocks for the Sooners (16-7, 6-5).

Rashad Odomes made a layup to cut West Virginia’s lead to 74-73 with 24.3 seconds to play. Oklahoma struggled to get the ball upcourt after Ahmad made one of two free throws with 13 seconds remaining, and Odomes missed under duress in close in the final seconds.

Carter sliced through Oklahoma’s defense for a layup at the first-half buzzer to give West Virginia a 50-40 lead. The Mountaineers shot 57 percent from the field and made 8 of 13 3-pointers before the break. Young scored 17 points in the first half and had just one turnover, but the Sooners couldn’t stop the Mountaineers.

Oklahoma held the Mountaineers scoreless for more than five minutes to start the second half and closed the deficit to 50-45. West Virginia got it going again, and a dunk by Konate put the Mountaineers up by 11.

Young hit two 3-pointers to help the Sooners cut West Virginia’s lead to 63-57 midway through the second half. He made a layup that nearly hit the top of the backboard to get the Sooners within 66-63, and the game was close the rest of the way.

BIG PICTURE

West Virginia: The Mountaineers had lost five of seven and got the big win they needed to move back into the conference title hunt.

Oklahoma: It was Oklahoma’s first home loss of the season. The Sooners have just one road win in league play.

UP NEXT

West Virginia hosts Oklahoma State on Saturday.

Oklahoma plays at Iowa State on Saturday.