A bad four-game stretch knocked Louisville from the middle of the top-25 poll to out of the rankings.
But the Cardinals still remain in contention for the ACC regular-season title and seek a second straight win Wednesday night when they visit Syracuse, which is among several teams in the league thriving at home.
Louisville (11-4, 6-3 ACC) ascended to No. 16 when it won five straight games from Dec. 22 through Jan. 13, a stretch that included wins over Kentucky and Virginia Tech. After a 12-point win at Wake Forest, the Cardinals dropped three of four, falling to Miami, Florida State and Clemson while beating Duke and went from No. 16 to No. 25 and then out of the poll.
Despite the subpar stretch, the Cardinals are within striking distance of the conference lead and rebounded by posting a 74-58 home win over Georgia Tech on Monday. Louisville allowed 32.4 percent shooting from the field, a season low for an ACC game, and its strong defense allowed the Cardinals to win despite the team shooting only 38.9 percent.
Monday also was a nice rebound for David Johnson, who scored a career-high 24 points after being held to four against Clemson. Samuell Williamson added 20 points and 18 rebounds in a game where Louisville grabbed a season-high 56 rebounds.
“Over the course of 40 minutes, I thought our guys really competed,” Cardinals coach Chris Mack said. “We got a lot of stops. We were connected on the defensive end. I thought it was one of our better efforts of the year.”
The Orange (10-5, 4-4) have won three of their past four games, with the wins coming at home, where they are 9-1. Syracuse rebounded from an 81-58 loss at Virginia on Jan. 25 by rallying for a 76-73 victory over North Carolina State on Sunday.
Syracuse won after trailing 47-38 at halftime.
“Our rebounding was better tonight and our defense was better,” Orange coach Jim Boeheim said. “It’s gotta get better as we move on toward the end of this year. We gotta play better on the defensive end. That’s the bottom line.”
Alan Griffin led the Orange with 19 points while Buddy Boeheim added 17 and hit four 3-pointers after going a combined 2-of-12 from 3-point range in the previous two games.
–Field Level Media