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Louisville hopes 2023 brings wins, starting against Syracuse

Kentucky's Oscar Tshiebwe (32) drove to the basket, surrounded by Louisville defenders during first half action as the Wildcats defeated the Louisville Cardinals 86-63 in Rupp Arena on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022

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Louisville certainly hopes that whatever happened to the program in 2022 does not carry over into 2023.

The Cardinals would love to put their November and December struggles behind them, beginning with Tuesday’s home date against Syracuse in Atlantic Coast Conference play.

Louisville (2-12, 0-3 ACC) has endured a nightmare season to this point, having suffered brutal losses of every sort. The Cardinals opened their season with three straight one-point defeats and since have suffered nine additional losses by at least eight points, including lopsided setbacks against Arkansas (80-54), Texas Tech (70-38), Miami (80-53) and Florida State (75-53).

Most recently, the Cardinals were trounced by rival Kentucky, 86-63, as the team shot just 2 of 13 from 3-point range, committed 15 turnovers and got outrebounded 33-20.

“When you’re playing a team like that,” said Louisville coach Kenny Payne, “the No. 1 thing that jumps off is the physicality of the game, the toughness of the game, the fight that you have to have to win a game, the rebounding. They scored 20 points on offensive rebounds and 19 points off our turnovers. You can’t win (like that). You have to match their intensity.”

Meanwhile, Syracuse (9-5, 2-1) concluded the calendar year with six wins in its final seven games, including a 79-65 triumph over Boston College on New Year’s Eve.

Joe Girard III scored 24 points, while Judah Mintz had 18 as the Orange shot nicely from the field (47.5 percent), the arc (8 of 16) and the foul line (13 of 15).

The key, however, was the play of sophomore forward Benny Williams, who pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds to go with 16 points and three blocks.

“Benny has been shooting it well in practice and he made a couple of shots,” coach Jim Boeheim said. “Then he got on the boards, that’s something he can do whether he makes shots or not. Rebound, play defense, he hasn’t been doing that. It was a good game for him.”

Syracuse has won three of the past four meetings between the teams, including a 92-69 romp last season. Orange center Jesse Edwards starred in that one with 19 points, missing only two of his 11 shot attempts.

–Field Level Media