Louisville’s Kyle Kuric came into Saturday’s game against top-ranked Syracuse as a blip in the game notes and an afterthought in most people’s minds. No one knew he would author a stunning final chapter in the storied history of Freedom Hall.
Kuric scored 22 points in the second half on a variety of 3-pointers and soaring finishes at the rim to lift Louisville over No. 1 Syracuse 78-68.
Through an unlikely opportunity made possible by a thumb injury to senior Jerry Smith, Kuric started the second half and quickly sent shockwaves through Freedom Hall by splashing back-to-back 3-pointers in the second half. He showed off his athleticism by cutting to the rim and ramming the ball home. The crowd got louder with every basket, pushing Louisville farther ahead of what many consider to be the nation’s best team.
What Kuric did would be a big deal regardless of the circumstances, but the setting on Saturday elevates his performance to legendary status.
Playing in front of a ravenous crowd including many of the best former players in school history, the kid from Evansville stole the show. He turned what was simply a close game into a spectacle that had viewers on the edge of their seats. Casual observers became excitable cheerleaders as they watched the sophomore hit 9-of-11 shots over the final 20 minutes.
Suddenly, the fact that Freedom Hall’s 54-year run was coming to an end became a side note. It didn’t even seem to matter that Louisville, a team barely off the bubble, was about to hand the No. 1 team it’s first road loss since last season. All that mattered was a dude named Kyle Kuric making buckets from all over the floor.
Let the madness begin.