Louisville built an early 30-10 lead, saw that lead almost completely evaporate, and then woke up in time to pull away for a 74-58 win over Miami Tuesday night inside the KFC Yum Center.
Jordan Nwora once again led the way for the Cardinals, which knocked off this same Miami team 87-74 in the season-opener for both teams back on Nov. 5. Nwora knocked down 3-of-5 attempts from beyond the arc and finished with a game-high 19 points. The All-American candidate also pulled down 12 rebounds and dished out a game-high four assists.
Joining Nwora in posting a double-double was Steven Enoch, who finished with 12 points and 10 boards. Dwayne Sutton nearly made the duo a trio, notching nine points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
Most recent games with double-doubles by 3 Louisville players (came within 1 Dwayne Sutton point tonight):— Kelly Dickey (@RealCardGame) January 8, 2020
Feb. 9, 2013, at Notre Dame - Behanan, Dieng, Smith
Mar. 29, 1986, vs. LSU - Ellison, Thompson, Wagner (assists)
Jan. 25, 1984, vs. Florida State - Forrest, Gordon, Jones
As a team, Louisville dominated the guard-heavy Hurricanes down low, outscoring them 42-12 in the paint.
Had the shooting been slightly better for the visitors, things could have gotten even more dicey than they did down the stretch. Miami finished just 17-of-61 (26.7 percent) from the field and 8-of-31 (25.8 percent) from three. They assisted on just five of their 17 made shots.
Outside of Louisville’s inside dominance, the brightest spot for the Cards may have been the play of point guard Darius Perry. The much-maligned junior finished with 10 points, three assists and no turnovers, and made several key plays when things got too close for comfort late in the second half.
“Darius was by far our best point guard tonight,” U of L head coach Chris Mack said after the game. “I think at times that position has been maligned for us. And we may have to do it by committee. But it was great to see Darius step up, not just at the offensive end, but the defensive end.”
It’s unlikely that anyone concerned with the recent stretch of basketball this Louisville team has been playing found a high degree of comfort in Tuesday night’s performance. The Cardinals seemed to be more or less going through the motions for stretches, a troubling trend that was only counterbalanced by a Miami team that often seemed even less interested in the game being played. Maybe that’s being overly harsh to both teams. Maybe it isn’t. All I know is that the joy this team seemed to play with consistently at the beginning of the season is only detectable in brief glimpses these days.
The good news, as always in early January, is that there’s plenty of time for everything fixable to be fixed. The better news is that a team which desperately needed a lift won a conference game by 16 points.