On Saturday, without their the academically ineligible James Southerland, Syracuse’s men’s basketball team managed to upset then-top-ranked Louisville 70-68 at the KFC Yum center, which proved to be just the start of a memorable three-day stretch.
The Orange played excellent defense against the Cardinals despite trailing most of the second half. In front of an arena-record crowd of 22,145, it was Brandon Triche who dominated the first 20 minutes scoring 18 of his team's total 40 points
Then, overcoming a season-high eight turnovers, Michael Carter-Williams atoned in a big way. He was clutch down the stretch, scoring nine out of SU's last thirteen points, including a game tying 3-pointer and a steal that led to a breakaway dunk which put the Orange ahead for good in the final minute.
Less than 48 hours later, the celebration was over as the Orange had a steep challenge facing another formidable opponent, Cincinnati, on Monday afternoon.
At the Carrier Dome, 24,145 were treated to another dramatic finish. In the final minute of the game Syracuse and Cincinnati were tied 55-55 after Carter-Williams’ layup and a 3-point conversion from the top of the key.
On the ensuing possession, the Orange's Jerami Grant drove into the lane and when his shot did not fall, C.J. Fair somehow put back the rebound with 19.4 seconds left. Somehow, C.J. Fair was credited with a rebound tapped in and SU, now no. 3 in the polls, escaped with a scintillating 57-55 win over the Bearcats..
Fair admitted that he was not sure who actually scored on SU's game-winning basket. “There were bodies down there and the ball just went through the hoop,” Fair said. “I just raised my hand. I thought I did, but maybe I got help. I do not know.”
“We did not want to lose,” said Carter-Williams. “None of us like losing. We wanted to do anything to win that game. We picked up our intensity and our energy. We should have found that in the first half. To come back later and beat Cincinnati is a great feeling. Now we can finally get some rest because were banged up and sore.”