A year after blowing a late lead and losing in overtime inside the Petersen Events Center, Louisville turned the tables on Pittsburgh.
The Cardinals trailed their hosts by seven with just 2:20 to play but scored the final seven points of regulation to send the game to an extra frame. U of L trailed for only 36 seconds in overtime on their way to a 73-68 win that propelled them to a 5-1 start in ACC play.
Tuesday night’s was an odd looking box score for a Louisville team that typically relies on two or three players to carry the bulk of its scoring load. Instead, the Cards had nine players score three points or more, but no one score more than Jordan Nwora’s 14 points.
It’s hard to pinpoint one hero for U of L down the stretch, but Dwayne Sutton was once again stellar in crunch time. His three-pointer with 1:24 to play in overtime stretched Louisville’s lead to five and seem to take the wind out of the lungs of an extremely vocal Oakland Zoo. Sutton finished the game one rebound shy of yet another double, notching 13 points and nine boards.
The other big story here is that David Johnson, whether it was at the one or the two, was on the floor for pretty much every crucial moment in this game. Although he had a handful of freshman mistakes, he also created opportunities with the dribble for himself and his teammates in a way that no other guard on Louisville’s roster can right now. I’m not sure if his massive minutes and Darius Perry’s minuscule minutes are the product of an opponent more suited to Johnson’s skillset or if this is more of a legitimate changing of the guard (I’m so sorry) situation. What is apparent is that Johnson is going to play a major role in whatever success Louisville does or does not have in the two (two and a half?) months to come.
Was there a terrible call in the game’s final moments? Yes. Were there multiple terrible calls in the game’s final moments?
Given how clueless those stripes were for the entirety of the evening, I’m calling it a wash.
Once again, this was far from a work of art, but if you want to take solace in something, take solace in the fact that for a second straight game Louisville executed better than its opponent down the stretch, despite playing on the road in a league game. That’s not everything, but it’s not nothing either.
Learning while still finding a way to win is the best way to learn, regardless of how it looks. Our next opponent would love to be saying they achieved the same thing tonight.