Playing its first game after an extended Covid pause, the Louisville men’s basketball team made all the plays it needed to down the stretch to pull out a 73-69 win over Wake Forest Wednesday night at the KFC Yum Center.
After a back-and-forth first 36 minutes that was — to be kind — difficult to watch for long stretches, the Cardinals and Demon Deacons played a thrilling final four minutes that at one point featured six consecutive made three-pointers between the two teams.
Noah Locke hit two of those triples for U of L, the second of which put the Cardinals ahead 69-67 with just over a minute to play. It was a lead they would not relinquish. Locke finished with a team-high 17 points and connected on five of his seven attempts from beyond the arc.
Louisville managed to win despite being a woeful 9-of-26 on two-point shots, several of those coming right around the rim. They made up for it by going 10-of-22 from three and outscoring Wake Forest 25-14 at the free-throw line. Holding the Demon Deacons to 7-of-27 from three and star Alondes Williams to 4-of-14 from the field certainly helped a lot as well.
Samuell Williamson made his first start of the season and was back to being the solid performer we saw during the second half of last season, scoring 12 points and grabbing a team-high eight rebounds. Malik Williams and Mason Faulkner each added 11 points to join Locke and Williamson as double figure scorers.
Look, it was far from a thing of beauty and I’m still a ways away from feeling confident about the three months ahead, but this was a game Louisville really, really, really needed to win, and it did. For now, that’s enough.
Take care of Pastner in Atlanta on Sunday and let’s try to get something going here.