I know that Vegas spreads typically don't stray too far from Ken Pomeroy's score projections, but even with KenPom calling for an 18-point Louisville win over Wake Forest this evening, I was a bit surprised to see no line lower than the Cards -14.5.
For starters, U of L was going to be playing with a hobbled (at best) Trey Lewis against a 9-3 Wake Forest team that pushed the Cards to the brink a year ago and could already claim wins over Indiana, UCLA and LSU this season. Add in the fact that Louisville was taking the court for the first time since the holidays and against a quality opponent at home for the first time this season, and it was easy to foresee how this game could be in doubt heading into the final minutes.
That logic did, in fact, prevail, but so did U of L. The Cardinals made all the key plays down the stretch to turn a 56-56 tie with 2:32 to play into a 65-57 victory. The win marked the second straight season in which Louisville has opened its conference season with a win over the Demon Deacons.
Donovan Mitchell was sensational in his first career start, scoring a game-high 18 points -- including two on a sensational drive to break that 56 all tie -- to go a long with eight rebounds. Chinanu Onuaku nearly had a double-double in the first half, and finished with 15 rebounds, 12 points and four blocks. Lewis, despite playing on that injured right ankle, chipped in nine points on three made shots from beyond the arc.
Louisville had been in two tight games before Sunday night, and they'd lost them both. Even though this game may have resulted in a more stressful end to the weekend than we would have preferred, I think in the end it was probably a perfect way to kick off ACC play. Now this team has been in a situation where they had to make plays down the stretch to win a game, and they delivered. That's a notch you want to have on your belt before the calendar flips to February.
More on the game (and Bryant Crawford's crotch-grabbing and free-throw missing) coming, but first, here's your box score:
|Wake Forest Demon Deacons|
|Devin Thomas, F||6-11||0-0||2-4||4||6||10||2||0||2||3||1||14|
|Konstantinos Mitoglou, F||4-10||2-4||0-1||2||8||10||1||1||1||2||1||10|
|Mitchell Wilbekin, G||1-2||1-2||0-0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||1||3|
|Bryant Crawford, G||6-17||2-5||0-5||2||2||4||7||2||0||1||4||14|
|Codi Miller-McIntyre, G||1-7||0-2||0-0||0||2||2||2||1||0||1||3||2|
|Doral Moore, C||1-1||0-0||0-0||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||1||2|
|Greg McClinton, F||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|John Collins, F||2-4||0-0||1-2||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||2||5|
|Cornelius Hudson, F||2-6||0-3||0-0||0||1||1||1||1||0||0||3||4|
|Rondale Watson, G||1-3||1-2||0-0||0||0||0||5||0||0||1||1||3|
|Chinanu Onuaku, C||6-9||0-0||0-1||3||12||15||0||0||4||3||4||12|
|Damion Lee, F||4-8||2-4||2-2||1||3||4||2||0||0||1||3||12|
|Jaylen Johnson, F||2-5||0-0||0-0||0||3||3||2||1||1||1||4||4|
|Quentin Snider, G||2-8||0-1||4-4||0||0||0||2||0||0||1||1||8|
|Donovan Mitchell, G||7-15||0-2||4-6||3||5||8||0||2||1||0||0||18|
|Matz Stockman, C||0-1||0-0||0-0||0||1||1||0||0||0||2||1||0|
|Raymond Spalding, F||1-1||0-0||0-1||2||4||6||1||2||0||1||1||2|
|Deng Adel, F||0-1||0-0||0-0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Trey Lewis, G||3-7||3-5||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||3||1||9|
Technical Fouls: PLAYERS: None - TEAMS: None