Changes work well for Louisville in rout

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - COLLEGE BASKETBALL -

NO. 7 LOUISVILLE 88, SYRA­CUSE 68

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Ex­tra prac­tice to im­prove free throw shoot­ing yielded pay­offs in other ar­eas for Dono­van Mitchell and Ray Spald­ing.

Mitchell made six three-point­ers for 25 points, Spald­ing added 18 points with 11 re­bounds and No. 7 Louisville shot 57 per­cent to pull away for an 88-68 vic­tory over Syra­cuse on Sun­day.

Seek­ing a sec­ond-place tie with Florida State in the At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence, the Car­di­nals rode a 14-4 run en­ter­ing the break for a 15-point lead that grew to 23 early in the sec­ond half. That pro­vided a buf­fer against shaky play Syra­cuse used to get within 11 but never closer as Louisville (23-6, 11-5) re­bounded from its loss at No. 8 North Carolina.

“We came out with en­ergy, which was a good sign,” said Mitchell, who shot 9 of 16 from the field to lead four Car­di­nals in dou­ble fig­ures.

“If we con­tinue to play with the en­ergy we played with in the sec­ond half, keep play­ing col­lec­tively and not let the press get to us, we’ll be fine.”

A re­vamped start­ing front­court fea­tur­ing Spald­ing helped as the sopho­more for­ward made 8 of 9 at­tempts to tie a ca­reer high in points while post­ing his sec­ond ca­reer dou­ble-dou­ble. He had just 23 points in his pre­vi­ous 10 games.

Louisville outscored Syra­cuse 38-22 in the lane in the process, suc­cess Mitchell at­trib­uted to a late-night workout with Spald­ing af­ter re­turn­ing from Carolina.

Deng Adel had 17 points and Quentin Snider 12 with 6 as­sists as Louisville com­pleted a sea­son sweep of Syra­cuse.

“[In the first half] we were too pas­sive and didn’t at­tack the de­fense very well,” Syra­cuse Coach Jim Boe­heim said. “The sec­ond half, we were bet­ter and more ag­gres­sive get­ting to the bas­ket, but I thought Louisville played re­ally well. They were dif­fi­cult in­side.”

Tyus Bat­tle had 20 points and Tyler Ly­don added 17 for Syra­cuse (17-13, 9-8), which had sought a fol­low-up to its buzzer-beat­ing vic­tory over No. 10 Duke. The Orange made just 20 of 56 from the field (36 per­cent).

“We got some good shots but just weren’t mak­ing them to­day,” said Bat­tle, who went 7 of 17 from the field.

In other games in­volv­ing top 25 teams, B.J. Tay­lor scored 27 points to help Cen­tral Florida up­set Cincin­nati 53-49. Ja­cob Evans scored 17 points for the Bearcats (25-4, 14-2 Amer­i­can Ath­letic). The Knights (19-10, 10-7) recorded their first vic­tory over a Top 25 op­po­nent since de­feat­ing No. 4 UConn in 2011. … Nick Ward had 22 points, Miles Bridges had 17 points and Matt McQuaid added a sea­son-high 15 for Michi­gan State in its 84-74 vic­tory over No. 16 Wis­con­sin. The Spar­tans (1811, 10-6 Big Ten) have won six of their past eight games, mov­ing them into a third-place tie in the con­fer­ence. Nigel Hayes scored 22 points for Wis­con­sin (22-7, 11-5). … Bonzie Col­son had 20 points and 11 re­bounds and No. 21 Notre Dame beat Ge­or­gia Tech 64-60 for its fifth con­sec­u­tive vic­tory. Matt Far­rell added 17 points for the Fight­ing Ir­ish (22-7, 11-5 At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence). Tadric Jack­son led Ge­or­gia Tech (16-13, 7-9) with 20 points, and Josh Oko­gie had 14 points and 10 re­bounds. … Ke­lan Martin scored 25 points as No. 22 But­ler knocked off Xavier 88-79. The Bull­dogs (23-6, 12-5 Big East) outscored Xavier 19-8 down the stretch for their fourth con­sec­u­tive vic­tory. Trevon Blui­ett led the Mus­ke­teers (18-11, 8-8) with 21 points.

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