Playing without its starting point guard and just three days removed from the most lopsided conference loss in program history, Louisville scored a crucial 69-57 win over Notre Dame Tuesday night at the KFC Yum Center. The Cardinals never trailed in the game.
While Carlik Jones and Samuell Williamson each turned in stellar offensive performances, it was the U of L defense that defined the evening.
Against a Notre Dame that entered Tuesday No. 15 in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency, Louisville limited its visitors to 57 points on juts 36.8 percent shooting from the field. It matched the Fighting Irish’s second lowest scoring output of the season. The 12-point margin of defeat was also the largest of the year for Mike Brey’s club.
Jones was, yet again, the offensive leader for U of L, finishing with 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field. He also dished out a team-high four assists.
When Notre Dame made thing interesting deep into the second half, it was Williamson who stepped up. His key offensive rebounds and reliable mid-range jumper provided the buffer necessary for Louisville to coast to its first victory since Feb. 1. Williamson finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.
After being virtually non-existent in the blowout loss at North Carolina, the freshman frontcourt duo of Jae’Lyn Withers and Dre Davis gave a pair of nice bounce-back efforts. Withers finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds — good for his third double-double of the season — while Davis chipped in 11, four, and three assists.
Quinn Slazinski came off the bench to add 10 points himself, while Malik Williams — starting a game for the first time this season — finished with 10 rebounds and six points.
Notre Dame is an average team that played a below average game Tuesday night, but that’s not going to sour anything about this win to me. Louisville had had everything going against it for pretty much the entire month, and on a night where they absolutely had to find a way to win in order to keep this entire season from getting away, they got the job done ... and with room to spare.
There’s still hope floating around the Derby City as we near the end of February, and that’s a good thing. Now let’s get DJ back and ready ourselves for a big one Saturday in Durham.