Louisville avenged its lone loss in ACC play to date with a hard-nosed 66-51 triumph over Pittsburgh Saturday afternoon at the KFC Yum Center. The Cards trailed by four at halftime, but tightened up defensively and held their guests to just 17 points over the game’s final 20 minutes.
Jordan Nwora didn’t completely return to his scorching hot form of last week, but he did enough to lead all scorers with 17 points. Steven Enoch chipped in a double-double with 12 points and 11 assists, while Christen Cunningham dished out seven assists.
Not sure CC could be cooler. pic.twitter.com/BlmPDUmXqU— Mike Rutherford (@CardChronicle) January 26, 2019
On the other end of the court, Louisville forced a drive-first Pitt team to try and beat them with the outside shot. They couldn’t. Jeff Capel’s team was just 6-of-21 from beyond the arc, and committed 17 turnovers, many of them as a result of trying to force things into the lane.
Especially impressive for U of L defensively was the job it did on Trey McGowens. After setting a Pitt freshman scoring record with 33 points in the first meeting against Louisville, McGowens was limited to just seven points on 3-of-8 shooting, and was forced into five turnovers. Xavier Johnson, a fellow freshman and the team’s leading scorer, was 3-for-14 from the field and also turned the ball over five times. Johnson finished with 21 points and 10 assists in the game against the Cards earlier this month.
On Thursday, Louisville had to win a game that was at times overly sloppy with its offense. Two days later, it had to win a game that got uglied up at times with its defense. In both instances, the Cards answered the bell. Now they’re 6-1 in the ACC and poised to climb into the top 20 of the national rankings.
I’ll say it again: I never could have imagined these last two and-a-half months could be this fun. This is a special group.