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Seedy K’s GameCap: Syracuse

It appeared obvious from the get go in this defense-less ACC matchup that the Louisville/ Syracuse game would come down to a play or two at the end that one outfit would make, the other wouldn’t.

The Orange scored the first hoop of the contest.

The Cards answered with a 9-0 run.

Not long after, ‘Cuse had their own 9-0, 14-2 skein. At which point, the homies led by 5, 16-11.

And so it went.

Until — OK I won’t bury the lede any longer — Red Autry’s guys showed a scintilla more poise at crunch time, and prevailed on a goal tend call, 94-92.

There were 13 ties.

18 lead changes.

U of L’s largest advantage was 7 way early.

Syracuse’s largest was 6.

Louisville plundered the undersized victors on the boards, 40-21. That +19 disparity gave U of L a 20 point 2d chance advantage.

Didn’t matter, because . . .

. . . it was more than mitigated by the winner’s 33 fastbreak points. Against only six for the Cardinals. That’s +27 favor home team in case you’re keeping score at home.

I kept thinking about a tale I’ve heard too many times from The Professor.

In the early 70s, he earned a graduate law degree from some little school in Cambridge, Mass, and he and his bride would go often to watch the Celtics in Boston Garden. Where Red Auerbach would be heard constantly yelling, “Stop The Ball.”

Which U of L did not do on the deciding play. Or, for that matter, the rest of the game either.

Skyy Clark, who played bigly down the stretch, knotted the tilt out of a timeout at 92 with but a few ticks left.

‘Cuse immediately inbounded the ball and streaked down the hardwood with extreme dispatch.

U of L didn’t stop the ball.

That goal tend ensued.

After going end to end, Qadir Copeland’s layup was granted, when Kaleb Glenn’s block from behind was considered against the rules of the game.

Thus the battle was appropriately decided by an Orange breakaway.

That the Cards might be the ones to crack came into focus on an interlude with 2:25 to go, and ‘Cuse up three with the ball. Just as the shot clock was to expire, Ty-Laur Johnson fouled JJ Starling.

It was Johnson’s 5th foul.

Starling was shooting a trey.

Huge Mistake.

Starling made all three charity tosses for 87-81 advantage.

Clark halved that disadvantage a few empty possession later with an old fashioned three point play. 84-87.

Kenny Payne called a timeout.

Then: Huge Mistake, Part Deux.

Mike James fouled Copeland, running behind him in the backcourt.

It was James’ fifth. Copeland converted one of the freebies for 4 point lead.

Louisville kept answering. Syracuse didn’t wilt.

Chris Bell, who by the by tallied 30 on 11/15 ( 8/10 beyond the arc) shooting, made the key play down the stretch, blocking a Clark breakout layup after a steal, to preserve the lead.

Louisville’s 54% marksmanship was one-upped by the victor’s 61%.

Louisville was a heady 11/25 from Treyville. Syracuse was also enjoying their visit to that burg at 10/22. Plus they feasted on opportunities granted by the Cardinals’ 17 giveaways.

Nice offensive efforts from Clark (23), White (17), Huntley-Hatfield (19) and James (12) weren’t enough.

All in all: Close. But unlike that Auerbach fellow in Beantown, no cigar.

— c d kaplan