Louisville’s recurring issue with closing out opponents reared its head once again, but the Cards managed to hang on for an 82-76 win over Akron Sunday night in their final game of the Global Sports Shootout. U of L finished the event with a perfect 4-0 record, making them the 2019 Global Sports Shootout champions. T-shirts available soon.
Chris Mack probably won’t feel like celebrating the early season title all that much after watching his team allow a lead that had been at 15 points or more for pretty much the entire evening dwindle to four in the game’s closing moments. U of L turned the ball over 14 times, resulting in 19 Akron points, and missed 13 of their final 15 field goal attempts.
Dwayne Sutton was once again a standout performer for the Cards, grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds to go along with 10 points despite attempting just three field goals. It was the third time in Louisville’s last four games that Sutton has hauled down 10 or more rebounds.
Jordan Nwora led U of L in scoring with 18 points, but he was just 1-for-8 from the field in the second half and scored only three points after the break. Steven Enoch added 17 points and five rebounds, while Ryan McMahon also hit double figures with 10 points.
Akron hung with the No. 2 team in the country thanks to the three-headed backcourt monster of Loren Cristian Jackson (20 points, 6 assists), Tyler Cheese (20 points) and Chanel Banks (18 points). The Zips would have had a solid shot at pulling the upset had they received an average performance from the fourth player on their roster who entered the evening averaging double figures in scoring, forward Xeriyus Williams. Instead, Williams shot just 3-of-12 from the field and was 0-for-8 from behind the three-point line.
It feels good to be 6-0 and it feels good to be the No. 2 team in the country, but this week was a nice reminder that this team has a significant amount of work to do if it wants to end this season in Atlanta.
Louisville’s next four opponents are all (right at this moment) ranked higher on Ken Pom than anyone the Cards have faced up to this point. The “teachable moments” portion of the non-conference schedule has ended. It’s time to ramp it up.
Here’s your final box score from Sunday: