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Mitchell, Spalding combine for 43 points, No. 7 Cards rebound to spank Syracuse, 88-68

Donovan Mitchell made six 3-pointers for 25 points, Ray Spalding added 18 points with 11 rebounds and No. 7 Louisville shot 57 percent to pull away for an 88-68 victory over Syracuse on Sunday.

Seeking a second-place tie with Florida State in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Cardinals rode a 14-4 run entering the break for a 15-point lead that grew to 23 early in the second half.

That provided a buffer against shaky play Syracuse used to get within 11 but never closer as Louisville (23-6, 11-5) rebounded from its loss at No. 8 North Carolina.

Ray Spalding added 18 points with 11 rebounds (UofL Athletics Photo)

Mitchell shot 9 of 16 from the field to lead four Cardinals in double figures. A revamped starting frontcourt featuring Spalding helped as the sophomore forward tied a career high in points while posting his second career double-double.

Deng Adel had 17 points and Quentin Snider 12 for Louisville.

“It was another good win for us.” said Louisville head coach Rick Pitino. “Wins in this conference don’t come easy, especially when we’re trying to put a lot of things in that are difficult for our guys to pick up, but as they get used to it, they’re getting better and better at it. I thought offensively we did a lot of really good things.

“I thought defensively, in the first half, we played excellent defense. We just turned it over a few too many times. We rebounded better. Like I told our guys in there, I said ‘I don’t change. Starting lineups are irrelevant to me, but when you get two rebounds in a game and you lose, I like to change things. If you’re a front court player and you want a lot of minutes, you’ve got to rebound the ball’. Certainly Ray [Spalding] grabbing 11 rebounds and Anas [Mahmoud] grabbing nine helped have a 39 -28 edge. We also had 18 assists to their seven, which is a good thing.”

Tyus Battle had 20 points and Tyler Lydon 17 for Syracuse (17-13, 9-8), which had sought a follow-up to its buzzer-beating win over No. 10 Duke.

Despite entering with a 3-2 record against Top 10 schools – including Wednesday’s nail-biter against the Blue Devils – the Orange’s tournament hopes had no room for error. They managed just 36 percent shooting, were outrebounded 39-28 and committed 10 of their 16 turnovers in the first half.

The Cardinals had plenty of room for improvement after losing at North Carolina and emerged more active against the Orange. Their free throw shooting was better than the previous game as they made 13 of 23 after hitting 4 of 13 against the Tar Heels.

Louisville’s win should be enough to keep the Cardinals in the Top 10.

Louisville visits Wake Forest on Wednesday night before closing the regular season on Saturday against No. 21 Notre Dame.

From UofL Athletics

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