By Brad McGuffin —
Louisville men’s basketball has consistently proved wrong all preseason predictions about its success, and that continued on Saturday with a win over Pittsburgh that avenged its only ACC loss.
No. 23 U of L (15-5, 6-1) started off slow with an abundance of turnovers, but overcame its halftime deficit to defeat Pittsburgh (12-8, 2-5). The Cardinals won 66-51 after trailing by four at halftime, holding the visitors to 17 points in the second half.
“We played incredibly hard in the second half,” head coach Chris Mack said. “We cut down our turnovers after halftime. We talked about playing aggressive and confident. We played much better offensively in the second half.”
Sophomore Jordan Nwora led the offense with 17 points and five rebounds, bouncing back from an off-night against NC State. Junior Steven Enoch notched a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Louisville’s offense was sluggish from the start and, by the midway point of the half, shot just 37 percent from the floor.
Defensively, Mack’s team prevented Pittsburgh from making outside shots as they finished 28 percent from the floor by halftime. The Panthers used an edge on the paint, along with production from the bench, to lead 33-29 at the break.
All told, even turnovers from the Cardinals hurt their chances. Graduate guard Khwan Fore led with eight points in the half.
The second half proved a much different approach for U of L on offense as they attacked the basket and took high percentage shots.
Physical play characterized Louisville’s defense after the break as they held the lead by creating several stops of Pitt’s offense.
Nwora, quiet in the first half, took over with intensity on defense and electrifying alley-oop dunk delivered by graduate guard Christen Cunningham.
Offensive runs gave the Cards a comfortable lead and they never looked back. They topped the scoreboard 66-51.
Louisville, atop the ACC, is back in action Wednesday night on the road against Wake Forest.
You can follow the Louisville Cardinal on Twitter @thecardsports.
Photo by Adrianna Lynch / The Louisville Cardinal