Freshman Harrell sparks 44-10 U of L run

NEW YORK – It was an amazing 44-10 run that helped lift the University of Louisville men's basketball team to a second straight Big East Conference Tournament title on Saturday night. The Cardinals trailed by 16 points but rallied for a 78-61 victory over Syracuse in Madison Square Gardens.

It couldn't have been much worse for the University of Louisville men's basketball team in the first half of the Big East Tournament final.

The Cardinals hit just 7 of 27 from the field, allowed six three-point field goals, were outrebounded 24-17 and trailed by 13 points.

Things looked as if they were going to get worse, the Cardinals fell behind 45-29 when James Sutherland hit a three-pointer with 15:51 left in the game.

But then came the run.

A 44-10 run that spanned more than 14 minutes and lifted the Cardinals from a hole into a double-digit lead and later to the Big East title.

"I don't know what to say," junior Luke Hancock said. "We just didn't play well in the first half. It's just unbelievable right now. I don't even know what to say."

Freshman Montrezl Harrell had 12 of his team-high 20 points in the run, while Hancock had six and Peyton Siva added five.

"This was a special, special night," U of L coach Rick Pitino said. "Tremendous grit by our guys because in the first half we were shooting ourselves in the foot. And for a veteran team, we shouldn't have done that.

"To go out in the second half and score 56 points off good offense, and our defense came because of the good offense."

Harrell was big in the run and in the game. He was 7 of 13 from the field, 6 of 9 from the line and finished with 20 points and seven rebounds.

"That's the Montrezl Harrell we have all been waiting on," assistant coach Kevin Keatts said. "Coach has been on him and he did a great job.

"Obviously, everybody has been waiting on him and he did it."

The run started with two Gorgui Dieng free throws and then three by Hancock before Russ Smith hit a three-pointer and Stephan Van Treese a putback to make it 45-39 with 14:00 minutes left.

"We just kept fighting," Siva said. "For our team, everybody stepped up."

C.J. Fair scored at 12:54 but the Orange wouldn't have another basket until the 1:49 mark when they trailed 73-55.

Harrell had three dunks, Kevin Ware added a three-pointer and Hancock hit four free throws during the rest of the run.

It was only fitting that Harrell capped the game with a jumper that hit the rim, bounded into the air and went in for the final points.

"Montrezl always bring energy and he did during that run," Hancock said. "Sometimes we have to reign him in but tonight we were trying to hype him up.

Added Kevin Ware: "He was a monster."

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