Syracuse Basketball suffers setback at No. 7 Louisville as NCAA Bubble shrinks

It's been a strange season.

The Orange began slow -- perhaps too slow if you asked any fan out there.

But then, in ACC play, Syracuse began to find its footing. The Orange ripped off five straight wins and powered its way into the NCAA Tournament conversation.

Then a heartbreaking loss at Georgia Tech, followed by a heart-thumping win over Duke, put Syracuse back in prime position to enter the tournament discussion.

However, Sunday's road contest at No. 7 Louisville served as a blip on the radar that struck plenty of fear in the eyes of SU fans.

In front of a national audience on CBS, the Orange and Cardinals went back-and-forth early on.

Louisville jumped out to the 11-2 lead, but the Orange fought its way back into the contest.

Tyus Battle tallied 12 points in the opening half, including three three-pointers to give the Orange a 17-13 lead.

But after that, the Cardinals surged ahead.

Behind Donovan Mitchell's game-high 25 points, Louisville took a 16-point lead going into the locker room. In the second half, it was more of the same, as the Syracuse only climbed back to within 10 points, but never less than that.

In the end, the Orange were halted on the road against a potential Final Four team, 88-68.

"In the second half, we drove," Orange head coach Jim Boeheim said in his post game press conference. "We had 43 points in the second half against the same defense. We were just too passive -- didn't attack the defense enough. Tyus [Battle] is the only one in the first half and the second, really, that tried to attack it. John [Gillon] didn't and when John started to in the second half, it was a little different of an offensive game."

Syracuse will host Georgia Tech in the regular season finale on Saturday at 4 p.m. Many bracketologists are already calling it a must-win game for the Orange if it is to advance to the NCAA Tournament this season.

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