Louisville scored 80 points against a Virginia team that entered Saturday allowing just 50.4 ppg. It almost wasn’t enough.
After seeing its 14-point halftime lead turn into a two-point deficit with just over three minutes to play, the Cardinals made all the plays they needed to down the stretch to walk out of the KFC Yum Center with an 80-73 victory. The win snapped a nine-game losing streak to UVA which dated all the way back to 2016.
As we all should have expected, a Virginia team that has been beyond anemic all season long on offense saved its most explosive offensive game of the year for U of L. Despite entering the day ranked 348th out of 353 Division-I teams in three-point shooting percentage, the Cavaliers knocked down 11-of-22 three-pointers and shot 53.1 percent from the field overall.
The primary contributor to Virginia’s highest-scoring output of the season was junior Tomas Woldetensae. Averaging 5.4 points per game on the year, Woldetensae drilled 7-of-10 three-pointers and 10-of-13 shots overall to torch Louisville for a career-high 27 points.
The madness didn’t end there.
UVA point guard Kihei Clark came into Saturday’s game having missed 14 consecutive three-pointers and not having made a shot from beyond the arc since Jan. 11. Naturally, he hit 4-of-6 and also achieved a new career-high with 23 points.
Still, none of that was enough to overcome a Louisville team that got 22 points from Jordan Nwora, hit nine three-pointers of its own, and turned the ball over just six times against Virginia’s vaunted pack line defense.
The mood inside the Yum Center may have reached its lowest point of the season around 5:40 p.m. That’s when a technical foul on Chris Mack allowed Clark to go to the line and hit a pair of free-throws to give Virginia its first lead of the game. An afternoon that had been shaping up to be a celebratory occasion suddenly felt like yet another cannon ball to the stomach at the hands of the Cavaliers.
David Johnson responded on the other end with a huge runner to tie the score back at 70. After a pair of Steven Enoch free-throws put Louisville ahead by two, the Cards would never trail again. Some monster defensive stops and a handful of clutch free-throws from Johnson, Malik Williams and Ryan McMahon shored up U of L’s 10th consecutive win and finally got it over the hump against its ACC arch-nemesis.
After four long years, I finally got to tweet this:
I won’t lie. It felt awfully good.
Celebrate accordingly tonight.