It was far from a work of art, but for the 11th time in the last 13 years, Louisville is off to a 1-0 start in conference play.
The Cardinals got double-doubles from the sophomore duo of David Johnson and Samuell Williamson, and grinded out a 64-54 road win over Pitt Tuesday night at the Petersen Events Center. The win was U of L’s 16th in its last 17 games against the Panthers, and improved the Cards to 9-2 in road games against their league foes from up North.
Louisville won relatively handily despite some long stretches of play where the team was plagued by both poor shooting and careless turnovers. The Cards gave the ball away 17 times, misfired on 13 of their 17 three-point shots, and on nine of their 21 free-throw attempts.
Helping Louisville’s cause significantly was the news just before tip-off that Pitt would be without the services of its two leading scorers, Justin Champagnie and Au’Diese Toney, who were both out with injuries. Champagnie also leads the Panthers, and the entire ACC, in rebounding at 12.3 boards per game.
Pitt was also missing head coach Jeff Capel, who tested positive for Covid-19 over the weekend. Associate head coach Tim O’Toole filled in for Capel.
Good on DJ and company for making the plays they needed to down the stretch in order to avoid what would have been a disastrous loss, but I think most of us can agree that the team is going to need to be much better on Saturday, and more importantly, much better against superior teams in this conference that aren’t missing their two leading scorers and head coach.
That said, a league win is a win is a win, especially this year. Being 5-1 overall and 1-0 heading into Kentucky is no small feat, but it’s going to take a superior effort to get to 6-1.