SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- Rakeem Christmas rebounded from his worst game of the season, scoring 29 points and blocking four shots, and Syracuse beat No. 12 Louisville 69-59 on Wednesday night.
It was the first game between the teams as members of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Syracuse (17-9, 8-5 ACC) was coming off an 80-72 home loss to fourth-ranked Duke in which Christmas was outplayed by freshman Jahlil Okafor.
Louisville (20-6, 8-5) was out to bounce back from Saturday's home loss to North Carolina State, but was without senior guard Chris Jones, who was suspended for violating team rules and did not make the trip. Freshman Quentin Snider made his first start in place of Jones, the team's assist leader (3.7 per game) and third-leading scorer (13.6 points).
The Cardinals have lost three of four and two straight after leading at the half.
Christmas faced his second straight challenge in Louisville's hulking freshman center Chinanu Onuaku and stalwart forward Montrezl Harrell, who entered the game with nine double-doubles. Christmas was averaging 9.5 rebounds a game to rank third in conference play, just ahead of Harrell.
Christmas, 8 for 25 in the previous two games, finished 9 of 10 from the floor and 11 of 13 on free throws.
Harrell finished with 15 points and nine rebounds but only scored three points in the decisive second half. Terry Rozier led the Cardinals with 17 points and Snider had a season-high 13. Wayne Blackshear, averaging nearly 11 points, fouled out and did not score.
Michael Gbinije continued his stellar play for the Orange, hitting a pair of 3s, notching three assists, and contributing a monster block at the rim on Rozier. He finished with 18 points and six assists. Tyler Roberson had 13 points and nine rebounds.
Syracuse trailed for most of the game before Christmas led it back, scoring 18 in the second half. He hit a pair of free throws and converted a lay-in to give Syracuse a 58-52 lead with 5:06 left.
Gbinije's lob to Roberson boosted the lead to eight as Snider missed 3s for the Cardinals on successive trips down the floor.
Kaleb Joseph's midrange jumper boosted the lead back to eight, but Snider responded with a 3 from the top of the key with 1:21 left.
The Orange iced it by hitting 7 of 8 free throws in the final 63 seconds.
Louisville held a 43-38 lead early in the second half. Syracuse, which trailed by four at the break, closed to 43-42 on a hook by Christmas in the lane. Less than two minutes later he sank two free throws to put the Orange ahead after Harrell was called for his third foul.
Snider's jumper put the Cardinals back up 47-44, but Joseph responded with a driving scoop in the lane and Christmas converted a three-point play and a dunk off a feed from Gbinije to give the Orange a 51-47 lead.
Louisville led by as many as eight in the first half, with Rozier keying an 11-3 spurt with a 3 from the right corner and a layup in transition.
Despite two early fouls, Christmas was a force at both ends for the Orange. He had blocks on consecutive Louisville possessions late in the first half to keep the Orange within four, and hit all four shots he attempted in scoring 11 points in the first 20 minutes.
Louisville: The Cardinals lost to the Wolfpack on Saturday despite committing a season-low five turnovers and it was only the second loss for Louisville in the last 80 games when leading at halftime. ... Onuaku is the brother of former Syracuse center Arinze Onuaku. ... Louisville leads the series with Syracuse 15-8.
Syracuse: Michael Gbinije is averaging 22.3 points and 4.5 assists in the month of February.
Louisville hosts Miami on Saturday.
Syracuse hosts Pittsburgh on Saturday.
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