Louisville purges Syracuse loss with 90-82 comeback road win versus DePaul

By on February 21, 2012

By Aaron Williams–

Kyle Kuric once again proved himself to be Louisville’s key offensive catalyst with a 25-point contribution that lifted the Cardinals to victory over a resilient DePaul squad on Saturday.

Kuric shot the ball a blistering 52.9 percent from the field on 5-10 3-point shooting. The senior forward also hauled in four rebounds and got into the passing lane to create three steals for his team.

Kuric’s offensive explosion primarily occurred in the second half when the Cards pushed their way back into the game after trailing the Blue Demons by 10 points at the end of the first half.

“In the second half, [Kyle] was all over the place and gave great effort,” said University of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino following the victory.

The 90-82 overtime win marks the ninth straight time the Cards have extinguished the Blue Demons. The solid road victory is just what Rick Pitino’s squad needed after suffering a devastating home loss to Syracuse earlier in the week.

Louisville’s defensive pressure was certainly on showcase during the DePaul rally. A critical steal by Russ Smith with under a minute to play led to a Kyle Kuric layup at the other end that pushed the Cardinals’ lead out to four prior to the Blue Demons forcing overtime. Louisville hoarded 11 steals throughout the course of the contest. The Cards average 9.19 steals per game, which earns them the rank of the seventh best stealing team in the nation, according to ESPN.com.

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino heatedly discusses a call with an official ins his cream suit on Monday night during the game against Syracuse.

Though Kuric was instrumental in the Cards’ come-from-behind victory against DePaul, he was not the sole contributor. Senior guard Chris Smith added 20 points on 7-15 shooting from the field. Sophomore guard Russ Smith also put up 16 points with 3-6 shooting from beyond the arch and a final tally of six steals. It was the two back-to-back baskets by Russ Smith and a layup by Chris Smith that put the Cardinals in the driver’s seat to victory with the game tied at 79 in overtime.

Junior guard Peyton Siva also had nine points and led the team in assists with six. Sophomore center Gorgui Dieng finished with eight points and eight boards.

Though freshman forward Chane Behanan had only a basket against DePaul, he was the Cards’ offense in the struggle versus Syracuse. The battle in the KFC Yum! Center in front of a sell-out crowded ended poorly for Louisville as the Cards fell 52-51. Behanan finished 16 points and nine rebounds versus the Orangemen. The forward pointed to turnovers and blown defensive assignments as reasons for the loss following the game.

“We’re already upset that we lost. We should have won. That’s what I’m trying to say,” said Behanan.

“It was a defensive battle and they came up with the plays in the end. I am very disappointed that we lost the game because last year the same thing happened,” Pitino told the media following the Syracuse loss.

With both the Syracuse defeat and DePaul victory now behind them, Louisville will travel north to face the Bearcats of Cincinnati in what is sure to be another gritty Big East conference clash. The Cards will then travel back to the KFC! Yum Center for two games versus Pittsburgh and USF before getting a second shot at Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. With Big East and NCAA seeding riding on the line, Louisville will need every one of its contributors at full capacity with less than two weeks away until the madness of March.

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Photo: Michael Baldwin/The Louisville Cardinal

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