SYRACUSE – Center Rakeem Christmas scored 29 points, including 18 in the second half, to lead Syracuse to a 69-59 win over No. 12 Louisville on Wednesday night in an Atlantic Coast Conference game at the Carrier Dome.
The Orange (17-9, 8-5 ACC) trailed 35-28 at the half but outscored the Cardinals 41-27 in the final 20 minutes, led by Christmas, who rebounded from a subpar, 11-point effort against Duke on Saturday. Christmas grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots Wednesday.
Louisville (20-6, 8-5) lost for the third time in four games. The Cardinals played their first game without senior guard Chris Jones, who was suspended for violating team rules. His replacement, freshman Quentin Snider, scored 13 points in his first career start.
Syracuse forward Michael Gbinije, coming off a career-high 27-point effort against Duke, had 18 points against Louisville, while forward Tyler Roberson chipped in with 13.
Guard Terry Rozier led Louisville with 17, while forward Montrezl Harrell had 15, just three in the second half.
Louisville jumped out to its largest lead, 35-28, on a three-point play by Harrell to start the second half. However, the Orange went on a 16-5 run, taking a 44-43 lead on two foul shots by Christmas.
Syracuse extended its lead to 51-47 on a Christmas lay-in.
The Orange extended to a 60-52 edge, its biggest advantage of the game at that point, on an alley-oop from Gbinije to Roberson with 4:34 to go.
Syracuse guard Kaleb Joseph hit a jumper from the wing with one second to go on the shot clock, giving the Orange a 62-54 lead. Syracuse hit seven of eight foul shots down the stretch to keep the Cardinals at bay.
Louisville guard Wayne Blackshear, who was averaging 10.9 points per game, fouled out with 5:16 to go and failed to score, taking just two shots from the floor.
Louisville led 32-28 at the half.
Harrell and Terry Rozier led the Cardinals with 12 and nine points, respectively.
Harrell and Rozier combined for 15 of Louisville’s first 21 points as the Cardinals jumped out to a 21-13 lead. Louisville hit nine of its first 13 shots. Syracuse hit just four of 13.
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• Penn State’s top player had the Nittany Lions on the verge of a big upset before Wisconsin’s top player stepped up and helped deliver the fifth-ranked Badgers their ninth straight victory.
Forward Frank Kaminsky had four crucial points to answer a big Penn State run, and forward Sam Dekker scored a career-high 22 points to help the Badgers offset a huge night by Nittany Lions guard D.J. Newbill in Wisconsin’s 55-47 win in the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa.
Newbill had 29 points on 13 of 21 shooting and assisted on three of Penn State’s other eight field goals. He had seven points during a 13-2 Penn State run that pulled the Nittany Lions to within five with 4:08 remaining.