Syracuse Basketball: Jim Boeheim & Co. Get Louisville Cardinals Monkey off Back

Andrew PreglerContributor IIIFebruary 13, 2012

LOUISVILLE, KY - FEBRUARY 13:  C.J. Fair #5 of the Syracuse Orange shoots the ball while defended by Gorgui Dieng #10 of the Louisville Cardinals during the Big East Conference game at KFC YUM! Center on February 13, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

This game was anything but pretty. In fact, aside from Rick Pitino's white suit, this game had almost no style or flash whatsoever.

But, in reality, that's fine for Jim Boeheim and the Syracuse Orange, as they defeated Louisville for the first time in six years by a score of 52-51. 

Syracuse never had control of the game in the first half, as Louisville's Peyton Siva bested the Orange 2-3 zone. Siva and the Cardinals were able to strike first and hold on to slim leads as the offenses struggled. 

Brandon Triche epitomized Syracuse's struggles, as the third-year starter found a way to air-ball early threes, which hurt the Orange's momentum. 

Fab Melo was the man in the middle, holding down the fort by drawing charges and making it hard for the Cardinals to attack—especially once Siva left due to foul trouble with six minutes to go in the first. 

The Orange's offensive woes continued in the second half when Kris Joseph picked up his fourth foul early in the half. At that point, the Orange looked like they were in serious trouble. 

Enter role player C.J. Fair. Much has been said about Fair's great all-around game, and tonight it came through, as his size allowed him to pull down seven rebounds and score a team-high 13 points. 

Once the Orange held the lead, they would not let it go. Joseph had a key steal in the final seconds that led to the Orange draining the clock to make a Louisville miracle inbound all but impossible. 

The win means that Boeheim and the Orange get the monkey off their back against both Pitt and Louisville this season, and this team continues to make the case for a special place in Syracuse lore. 

Are there still issues to address? Of course. This was a horrendous shooting night and the Orange still struggled on the boards. These issues must be fixed if Syracuse is to make a Final Four run. 

But Boeheim and crew are making the critics start to eat their words.