Despite making only one three-pointer and Scoop Jardine following his best game of the year with an 0-8 dud, the Orange showed yet again their mental toughness is at an all-time high with a 52-51 comeback win over the Cardinals.
Down 51-46 with less than four minutes to go and facing their eighth straight loss to the always scrappy Louisville squad, Syracuse responded with a jumper by Brandon Triche, two free throws made by Fab Melo and a C.J. Fair layup from Dion Waiters in just over a minute.
Syracuse made the simple plays such as making free throws (9-of-11 compared to 12-of-21 for Louisville) and rebounding (37 to Louisville's 39), as Coach Boeheim referenced after the Georgetown game how the rebounding gap is not a huge issue when it is a difference of one or two a game.
After Peyton Siva was dominating the Syracuse zone, the defense adjusted and avoided jumping at any pass, a pattern they have seemed to follow all season.
The defensive and offensive improvement with adjustments by Boeheim and the team continue to get better all year long, and this win against a top 20 team on the road shows the ability of the team to remain calm in the big moments.
As I stated in my last article, this team has yet to lose with Melo in the lineup, and his 37 minutes on the court, along with a 3-for-3 night on the free-throw line with only a 61.1 free-throw percentage entering this game show great improvement. It also shows that his continually dedication could lead him to be the Big East's most improved player from year to year.
Another statement made in my previous article was how the improvement of Dion Waiters and C.J. Fair give Syracuse double the influence on the bench that they have ever had, and with them scoring 20 combined points, the bench scored as much as the starting five.
This proves the assumption by many around the country that not only do the Orange have the best bench in the country, but it is arguably as good as their starting lineup.
The win against Louisville tonight is a testament to how this team can play in the clutch, and win both pretty and ugly.