Changes work well for Louisville in rout
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.