The No. 1 team in the nation fell on Saturday. In a back-and-forth, tightly contested game that was filled with runs by both teams, No. 1 Louisville was defeated by No. 6 Syracuse, 70-68.
After entering halftime tied at 38, Louisville raced out to an early lead in the second, and it appeared like the Cardinals were going to author yet another second-half blowout.
However, the Orange did not wilt in the face of Louisville's intense defensive pressure, and they pulled out the stunning upset.
The hard work Louisville put into building a second-half lead was completely erased as the Orange took the lead back for the first time since they held it at 18-16, working their way to 64-62 in the second.
However, Louisville did not let that lead last, as they had this game tied at 64 with just over two minutes left.
These two traded blows in the first half, and the Orange owe their strong first-half performance almost solely to Brandon Triche. The senior guard was on fire. He finished the first half with 18 points and was a perfect 7-of-7 from the field, including four three-pointers.
Triche finished with a team-leading 23 points by going 9-of-13 from the field.
Meanwhile, over the course of the first half, Louisville got exactly zero points from star Peyton Siva. He didn't score his first points until just under 10 minutes remained in the second, and it was a big shot, as his three gave Louisville a 55-52 lead.
That three was his only bucket, finishing the game with three points, going 1-of-9 from the field.
However, adding to Siva's rough outing was his ill-advised pass that turned into a turnover and an easy bucket for Syracuse, giving the Orange a one-point lead with 38 seconds left. The Orange did not let that lead go.
While Siva hit the big three, it was his backcourt-mate Russ Smith who was picking up the slack while Siva struggled to hit his target.
Smith was pouring in buckets, finishing with a game-high 25 points on 8-of-18 shooting—still not enough to save his Cardinals.
You can view the full box score here.
The KFC Yum! Center was rocking for this game, and it was an unprecedented packed house. This fan tweeted a stat, which was featured during the broadcast of the game:
Today's game against Syracuse sets Louisville's home attendance record. Hard to believe this would surpass a home game against UK.— Brad Defoe (@BradleyDefoe) January 19, 2013
Rebounds: 15-8 Syracuse leads the category. Assists: 10-7 Louisville leads the category.— Syracuse Basketball (@SyrBall) January 19, 2013
WDRB in Louisville's Eric Crawford also helped add some insight to the first half with this tweet:
Syracuse Basketball let us know that the Orange are not accustomed to allowing the kind of production they did on Saturday:
Who should be the nation's new No. 1 team?
Louisville's 38 points tie for the most SU has given up in 1st half this season. Temple and Ark both had 38.— Syracuse Basketball (@PSBasketball) January 19, 2013
While Syracuse fans were getting excited over their chances to pull off this upset on the road at halftime, Louisville had good reason to remain confident. This fan lets us know why:
Associated Press contributor Josh Abner, who covers Louisville, was looking for a stat that would likely help highlight the point made above.
Need a stat check from #UofL fans: What is Louisville's record when Pitino returns from halftime and has ditched his tie? Another time today— Josh Abner (@joshabner) January 19, 2013
ESPN succinctly summed up the game with this tweet:
This Syracuse-Louisville game is really, really, really, ridiculously intense.— ESPN (@espn) January 19, 2013
That was not just hyperbole, either. This game was fantastic, and it had the feel of a tournament game.