Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Rakeem Christmas Scores 29 as Syracuse Upsets No. 12 Louisville

Syracuse 69
(12) Louisville 59

Final from Syracuse, New York

Game recap by UL:

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - Rakeem Christmas made amends - and then some. Syracuse's standout senior center rebounded from his worst game of the season, scoring 29 points and blocking four shots, and Syracuse beat No. 12 Louisville 69-59 on Wednesday night.

Reeling from a 5-for-17 shooting performance in a loss to No. 4 Duke and being outplayed by standout freshman center Jahlil Okafor on Saturday, Christmas responded like a champion. He was 9 of 10 from the floor and 11 of 13 on free throws.

''It felt good. We needed a win like this ... to keep us going the rest of the season,'' Christmas said after the Orange's first victory this season over a ranked team in four tries. ''We all talked about keeping our heads up and getting ready for tonight's game. Everybody had their mind right and played hard.''

It was the first game between the teams as members of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Louisville (20-6, 8-5) was out to bounce back from Saturday's home loss to North Carolina State, but was without senior guard Chris Jones, suspended for violating team rules; he did not make the trip. Freshman Quentin Snider made his first start in place of Jones, the team's assist leader (3.7 per game) and third-leading scorer (13.6 points).

The Cardinals, who snared only two steals for the second straight game, have lost three of four and two straight after leading at the half.

''We couldn't give them the pressure. It's tough with a makeshift lineup,'' Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. ''What's stopping us from being a very good basketball team - the last three years we've been one of the most feared defensive teams in the nation with steals, turnovers. We've just been void of both.''

Christmas faced his second straight challenge in Louisville's hulking freshman center Chinanu Onuaku and stalwart forward Montrezl Harrell, who entered the game with nine double-doubles.

Harrell finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, but only scored three points in the decisive second half. Terry Rozier led the Cardinals with 17 points and Snider had a season-high 13. Wayne Blackshear, averaging nearly 11 points, fouled out with 5:16 left and did not score.

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