LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams wasn’t fazed by a shaky first half, nor two missed free throws in the final minute that gave No. 1 Louisville chances to win on Saturday.
The sophomore just knew he had to redeem himself, and his second-half recovery in several areas helped the sixth-ranked Orange rally for a 70-68 victory.
It was the second straight Saturday that the No. 1 team went down. Duke lost to then-No. 20 North Carolina State 84-76 a week ago.
A record crowd of 22,814 at the KFC Yum! Center saw Syracuse beat a No. 1 team for the fourth time — all Big East opponents.
Carter-Williams’ most important contributions were a go-ahead 3-pointer with 5:28 remaining, followed by a steal and go-ahead dunk with 23 seconds left. He scored nine of his team’s final 11 points, including the last four.
He added a rebound and another steal at the end to cap a 16-point, seven-assist game that made it easy to forget a five-point first half and those two missed free throws.
“I wasn’t going to go out without a fight,” said Carter-Williams, who finished with four assists and four steals. “They were pressuring us, coming at us in the first half. Things were going their way. The second half, I tried to fight back the best I could. I had two or three turnovers but I just kept flipping the page, flipping the page, and ended up winning the game, which was great. …
“Those free throws, I just had to have faith in myself and just try to do anything to get the win.”
Brandon Triche was 9 of 13 from the field, including five of Syracuse’s seven 3-pointers, to finish with 23 points as the Orange (17-1, 5-0 Big East) took sole possession of first place in the Big East. He credited Carter-Williams for getting the win.
“Michael was the reason we won the game, getting the dunk,” Triche said. “I might have kept us in the game, but he’s the reason we won the game getting the two steals. That’s winning stuff.”
Jerami Grant and C.J. Fair each had 10 points for the Orange.
Russ Smith’s 25 points led Louisville (16-2, 4-1), which had its 11-game winning streak stopped. The Cardinals shot 41 percent (24 of 59), including 29 percent in the second half.
After taking a 68-66 lead on Smith’s two free throws with 1:58 left, Louisville missed two shots and committed two turnovers.
“That was a great college basketball game and they made some really terrific defensive plays down the stretch,” Louisville Coach Rick Pitino said. “They made the plays, they made the shots when it counted and we didn’t.”
(4) KANSAS 64, TEXAS 59: Ben McLemore scored 16 points and the visiting Jayhawks (16-1, 4-0 Big 12) stormed back from a late double-digit deficit for their 15th straight win.
(7) ARIZONA 71, ARIZONA STATE 54: Mark Lyons scored 24 points and Nick Johnson added 19 as the Wildcats (16-1, 4-1 Pac-12) pulled away in the second half against the Sun Devils (14-4, 3-2) at Tempe, Ariz.
(13) BUTLER 64, (8) GONZAGA 63: Roosevelt Jones stole an inbound pass with 3.5 seconds left and hit a floater from just inside the foul line right before the buzzer to help Butler (16-2) beat Gonzaga (17-2) at Indianapolis.
(10) FLORIDA 83, (17) MISSOURI 52: Scottie Wilbekin had 13 points and 10 assists, and Florida (14-2, 4-0 SEC) routed visiting Missouri (13-4, 2-2) to give Coach Billy Donovan his 400th win with the Gators.
(18) MICHIGAN STATE 59, (11) OHIO STATE 56: Keith Appling made two free throws with 7.9 seconds left and finished with 15 points to help the Spartans (16-3, 5-1 Big Ten) beat the Buckeyes (13-4, 3-2) at East Lansing, Mich.
WICHITA STATE 67, (12) CREIGHTON 64: Carl Hall had 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Malcolm Armstead hit two key free throws in the closing seconds for the Shockers (17-2, 6-1 Missouri Valley Conference) in a win over the Bluejays (17-2, 6-1) at Wichita, Kan.
WYOMING 58, (15) SAN DIEGO STATE 45: Leonard Washington had 14 points and 14 rebounds to help the Cowboys (15-2, 2-2 Mountain West) beat the Aztecs (14-4, 2-2) at Laramie, Wyo.
(16) KANSAS STATE 69, OKLAHOMA 60: Rodney McGruder scored 20 points and Will Spradling added 15 for the Wildcats (15-2, 4-0 Big 12) in a win over the Sooners (12-4, 3-1) at Manhattan, Kan.
(20) NOTRE DAME 69, RUTGERS 66: Jack Cooley had 19 points, 10 rebounds and Scott Martin drew a charge with 2 seconds left to help the Irish (15-3, 3-2 Big East) hold off the Scarlet Knights (14-4, 3-3) at South Bend, Ind.
(21) OREGON 76, (24) UCLA 67: Tony Woods scored 18 points, and the visiting Ducks (16-2, 5-0 Pac-12) snapped a 10-game winning streak for UCLA (15-4, 5-1).
(22) VCU 90, DUQUESNE 63: Rob Brandenberg scored 22 points and the host Rams (16-3, 4-0 Atlantic 10) used a 26-2 run to extend their winning streak to 13.
CINCINNATI 71, (25) MARQUETTE 69: Sean Kilpatrick scored seven of his career-high 36 points in overtime, and the Bearcats (16-3, 4-2 Big East) pulled out a win over the visiting Golden Eagles (13-4, 4-1) after blowing a 16-point halftime lead.