On easily its worst shooting night of the season, No. 1 ranked Louisville still found a way to take down its most difficult opponent to date by double figures. The Cards held No. 4 Michigan to a woeful 15-of-58 (25.9 percent) from the field on their way to a 58-43 win Tuesday night in an ACC-Big 10 Challenge game inside the KFC Yum Center.
Jordan Nwora was once again Louisville’s top offensive performer, finishing with 22 points despite an atypically subpar 9-of-23 shooting night. The preseason ACC Player of the Year made up for it by snagging a game-high 12 rebounds and seeming to be in the middle of every positive thing the Cardinals did all evening.
Steven Enoch, who played arguably his finest game as a Cardinal date, contributed a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. He also played tremendous defense against the exact type of ball screen-heavy offense that had given him problems in years past.
No other player scored more than five points for Louisville, which shot a season-low 36.7 percent from the field and went just 4-of-19 from three.
Despite those numbers, U of L led the previously unbeaten Wolverines by double-digits for almost the entirety of the evening. The Cards became the first team since Nov. 23, 2016 to hold Michigan to fewer than 50 points.
Nobody saw this type of game coming from a pair of teams that entered the evening ranked No. 2 (Michigan) and No. 5 (Louisville) in effective field goal percentage.
This is going to sound like I’m contorting to myself to fit within the mold of what we just witnessed, but there is something comforting about knowing that Louisville can win a game like this. Up until Tuesday, this team has relied on shooting an unsustainably high percentage against inferior opponents. To have a night where nothing would drop and still beat what should wind up being one of the better offensive teams it sees all year by 15 is ... very cool.
That said, the primary takeaway from this evening has to be Louisville’s incredible energy and the fact that they never seemed to let up and let Michigan back in the game. The Wolverines made things a little interesting by scoring the first six points of the second half, but once U of L regained control they never lost it. That’s not something we saw a year ago, and to be quite frank, it’s not something we saw against a couple of mid/low major opponents last month.
Obviously you hope that this is the worst shooting performance of the season for the Cards, but in the next breath, you give thanks for the confidence boost that winning in this fashion has to give so many of the guys on this team.
With the win, Louisville moved to 4-2 all-time in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge, and 4-0 at home. Michigan fell to 8-11 in the event and 3-7 on the road.
U of L is one of only 19 remaining unbeaten teams in Division-I.
These next four months are gonna be so damn fun, y’all.