SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Playing in college basketball's biggest phone booth (the Carrier Dome), Ryan McMahon stepped out like the man of steel Monday night and led No. 8 Louisville to a 76-72 overtime win over Syracuse in an Atlantic Coast Conference game.
"He put on his Superman outfit and won the game for us," Cardinals coach Rick Pitino said.
McMahon, a 6-foot redshirt freshman guard who was averaging 6.7 minutes per game, didn't play at all in regulation but scored seven points in overtime with star guard Donovan Mitchell on the bench with five fouls. After the Cardinals blew a 5-point lead with 1:28 remaining in overtime and surrendered a 3-point play by Syracuse's Andrew White to start overtime, McMahon answered with a 3-pointer that tied the score at 61-61 and gave the Cardinals a desperately needed spark.
"Ryan, no matter what the situation is, never met a shot he wouldn't take," Pitino said. "That doesn't mean it's going to go in under pressure, but he made big plays and I'm really happy for him that he had this moment."
Mitchell paced the Cardinals (21-5, 9-4) with 16 points, Quentin Snider had 14 points and six assists, and reserve forward Anas Mahmoud added 12 points and eight rebounds. Mahmoud scored five of his points in overtime as he and McMahon combined for 12 of Louisville's 18 points in the extra session.
"I never had a doubt in my mind that we were going to win this game," Mahmoud said. "We were playing defense well the whole game, and even when we missed shots and weren't making shots in the second half, we were still getting stops (on defense) and that's how I knew we were focused in and we were going to get this 'W.'"
White scored 11 of his game-high 22 points in overtime and his three free throws with 13.4 seconds remaining pulled Syracuse within two, 74-72. After Louisville's Jaylen Johnson missed a pair of free throws, the Orange (16-11, 8-6) had a chance to send the game into a second overtime but Tyler Roberson missed two free throws with 2.7 seconds left.
"I thought we played hard as we've ever played," said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who called Louisville a "Final Four team." "I thought it was an unbelievable battle to get back in it. We should have been out both times, but they didn't give up and they kept coming back. To be down as many as we were, I thought it was impossible. We did an unbelievable job coming back."
Tyler Lydon scored 14 points with nine rebounds for the Orange, who shot 23.5 percent (8 for 34) from beyond the arc after entering the game shooting 39.5 percent from long range this season. Louisville's defense is No. 2 in the country in Ken Pomeroy's adjusted defensive efficiency rankings and the Cardinals led the ACC in 3-point field goal percentage defense (28.7) entering Monday's game.
"I think we got some good open looks today, but their guys were flying all over the place and it was just a matter of us not stepping up and hitting those big shots," said White, the ACC's leading scorer in league play who was 2-for-14 from 3-point range.
McMahon's followed his 3-pointer in overtime with a layup, although he failed to convert the free throw after getting fouled. He did make two free throws with one second remaining to seal the victory for the Cardinals, who have won five of their last six games and are now tied with Florida State (9-4) for second in the ACC behind North Carolina (9-3).
"(Pitino) just called my name, and I'm always ready to play," McMahon said. "I'm just thinking about my teammates all the time and what we could do to get this win because it's a tough place to play at and it's a big win for us."
With their unexpected contributions, McMahon and Mahmoud helped Louisville overcome an awful night at the foul line (16 for 30) and the absence of Mitchell, who had taken over the game when he fouled out with 1:15 remaining in regulation.
"I knew that he was going to use me, I just had to be more aggressive offensively for him to trust me," said Mahmoud, a 7-0 junior from Cairo, Egypt. "(Pitino) trusted me today and I gave it right back to him."
After Johnson's two free throws gave the Cardinals a 56-51 lead with 1:28 remaining, Syracuse's John Gillon sank a pair of free throws, White made a layup off a Louisville turnover, and Gillon drilled a 3-pointer after another turnover to knot the score at 58 with 37 seconds remaining.
Louisville's Deng Adel missed a pair of free throws, but Gillon fumbled the ball out of bounds on a drive with 3.6 seconds left in regulation. Snider's halfcourt shot at the buzzer was off the mark, sending the game into overtime, where the Orange nearly pulled off another miracle comeback.
"I wouldn't be surprised to see them (in the Final Four), so for us to stand toe-to-toe to them, I guess it's all right on paper," White said. "But you've got to win."
-- Syracuse F Andrew White, who entered Monday's game leading the ACC in scoring in league play (20.7 ppg), has scored at least 20 points in seven consecutive games. The last Syracuse player to accomplish that feat was Hakim Warrick during the 2004-05 season.
-- Louisville is one of only four schools with 20 wins in each of the last 15 seasons. Duke, Gonzaga and Kansas are the others.
-- Louisville and Syracuse will play for the second time in 13 days on Feb. 26.
-- Before the national anthem, fans were asked to stand for a moment of silence for former Syracuse center Fab Melo, who died Saturday at 26 in his home country of Brazil. Melo spent two seasons with the Orange from 2010-12 before being drafted by the NBA's Boston Celtics.