If the tide was going to turn in favor of Syracuse, it was going to happen when James Southerland hit the three-point shot at the 9:21 mark.
He was getting warmed up, or so it seemed, making four three-pointers in the second half.
The 31,173 fans at the Carrier Dome felt it, University of Louisville fans had a sinking sensation with Syracuse claiming a 38-36 lead.
Twenty seconds later, however, Luke Hancock would take advantage of a Brandon Triche lapse on defense, confidently sinking his own three-pointer, UofL reclaiming the lead.
Hancock would have to come through again at the 53-second mark with another three-pointer break a 48-48 tie, putting UofL up to stay 51-48.
This from Eric Crawford:
By now, everybody knows that Hancock’s shooting range is coming around. What they might not know is the effort it takes for Hancock to get to that point.
Every day he comes to the U of L basketball practice facility with an arm so stiff he can’t raise it above his head.
Trainer Fred Hina takes him out onto the court and they do overhead two-hand passes to loosen him up. Then he throws the basketball like a baseball. They do “tissue mobilization.” They do stretching. If you watch Hancock carefully, he’s always moving the shoulder on the bench to try to keep it from tightening back up.
Louisville would make only four field goals in final 9:01, three of them Hancock three-pointers, the other a layup by Gorgui Dieng, the game entering a mostly foul-plagued stage. Syracuse, fortunely, was managing only two field goals. Still another defensive struggle.
Hancock taking his turn on center stage during Louisville’s 58-53 win. It has been a season when the names of players assumiing the leading role have become almost interchangeable.
- Kevin Ware, with his newfound confidence, continuing to contribute, taking defense seriously, three of four field goal attempts and five rebounds. If Ware keeps raising his playing level, he’s going to become comfortable with being good.
- Gorgui Dieng becoming more vocal as his college career winds down, giving instructions to his teammates, expecting them to comply. He’s wanting something special for this team. Still another double-double with 14 rebounds, 11 points.
- Russ Smith playing under control, but ready to go into overdrive at any time, with a game-leading 18 points. Nobody better on the free throw line with a game on the line.
- Chane Behanan making his presence felt around the basket but not able to get the ball in basket enough. Still hesitating when he does catch the pass. Expect the ball, go to the basket.
- Peyton Siva, another sub-par game against Syracuse, mostly relegated to the bench during crunch time. Rick Pitino admitting that his team was better off without him this time around. It’s just Syracuse, Peyton.