Men’s basketball nearly squanders another big lead, holds off Pittsburgh

By on January 11, 2017

By Dalton Ray–

A hot shooting night from Quentin Snider propelled the men’s basketball team to their 14th win this year, as Louisville held on for the 85-80 win over Pittsburgh.

Snider scored 22 while going 7-for-11 from the field. Louisville once led by 26 points, but Pitt cut their lead to as little as five with 30 seconds remaining. Pitt’s Jamel Artis nearly provided the comeback win by himself as he dropped 43 points in 38 minutes.

The Panthers outscored U of L 54-38 in the second half. Coach Rick Pitino said his team played very different between the two halves.

“We played a brilliant first half but we constantly got beat off the dribble during the second. We let them have way too many threes,” Pitino said.

 

Donovan Mitchell and Deng Adel both added 15 points and combined for 14 rebounds. Fellow sophomore Ray Spalding scored 11 and pulled in eight rebounds.

The only other Panther in double-digits was Michael Young, who finished with 17 points.

Four minutes into the game, and Louisville trailed 5-4. That deficit didn’t last long, as the Cardinals gained a 10-8 lead with 13 minutes to play. Deng Adel, Mitchell and Snider quickly expanded the lead to double-digits.

Back-to-back mid-range jumpers from Adel and a three from Mitchell made it 17-10. Snider ignited the crowd by sinking back-to-back threes, pushing the Cardinal lead to 13 with nine minutes to play.

Louisville began to separate as they shot 53 percent from the field, including hitting 5-of-7 threes at one point. Holding a 32-19 lead, U of L went on a 18-3 run.

Pitts’ offense struggled in the first half, as the Panthers went on a five-minute scoring drought to end the half. Trailing 47-26 at the break, Pitt committed 11 turnovers and shot 33 percent from the field.

Early into the second half, Louisville pushed their lead to 26. Pittsburgh showed their first sign of life since the opening minutes, as they started a 7-0 run. The Cards didn’t hesitate to crush Pitts’ momentum as U of L ripped off a 7-0 run of their own.

Back trading ensued as Louisville held their lead above 15 points over the seven minutes. Double-teamed near mid-court, David Levitch brought energy back into the Yum! Center as he found a wide-open Adel under the basket for the dunk. On the next possession, Mangok Mathiang blocked Chris Jones’ dunk attempt, which led to a fast break score from Adel.

The Panthers started to ride Artis’ hot hand, as the offense went through the senior’s hands late. Over a 14-minute stretch in the second half, Artis scored 24 of Pitt’s 36 points. A three with three minutes to play cut the Louisville lead to single-digits.

Back-to-back threes from Artis and Young cut the Louisville lead to five with 35 seconds to play. Missed free throws by Louisville down the stretch allowed Pitt to stay in the game.

Pitino explained how the Panthers were able to make the late comeback.

“They made adjustments and our guys couldn’t mentally adjust and guard them. We kept backing up in transition, giving them very tough threes, but he was on fire,” Pitino said.

Louisville was able to hold off the late surge from the Panthers due to their big lead created in the first 35 minutes. Now 2-2 in conference play, U of L looks to earn their third ACC win when they host No. 7 Duke at 12 p.m. Saturday.

File photo / The Louisville Cardinal

About Dalton Ray

Sports editor (2016-18) that is technically award winning.

Email: dray@louisvillecardinal.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *