By Daniel Rankin —
On March 8, the Louisville Cardinals took down No. 14 seeded Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 84-74.
Senior Guard Jarrod West scored a season-high 20 points, leading both teams. Noah Locke contributed 16 points, including four from the 3-point range. Malik Williams finished the game with a double-double complete with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The defending ACC Champion Yellow Jackets started the game well, running to a 7-0 start. A three from Mason Faulkner and solid paint play from Williams allowed the Cards to remain competitive early.
Most notable early in the game was the limited rotation used by Head Coach Mike Pegues, who only used seven players the entire game. In a season with inconsistent playing minutes and different starting lineups, it seems Louisville has finally found their main core of players just in time for the ACC Tournament.
The first half remained competitive until the Cards pulled ahead comfortably midway through.
A 53.3 percent field goal and 50 percent 3-pointer first-half percentage kept the pressure on Georgia Tech and allowed the Cards to head into the locker room up 45-28.
In the second half, the Cards slowed down slightly offensively but continued to extend their lead. With 12 minutes remaining in the game, Louisville had its largest lead of 27 points.
At this point, Georgia Tech re-tuned their defensive game plan and changed the game entirely with an aggressive 17-0 run.
Despite a timeout from Pegues, the Cards quickly found themselves leading by single digits late in the game. However, Louisville found a way to prevail thanks to late points by West and Junior El Ellis, securing the victory for the Cards.
“Credit to Georgia Tech they fought back and got in the game, and we allowed some [turnovers] in transition,” stated Pegues. “But our guys didn’t cave and stayed with it.”
Overall, it was an exciting ACC Tournament matchup and a great win for the Cardinals. After a disappointing regular season, any attempt to rewrite the team’s success in postseason play is a good start.
With the round 1 win, the No. 11 seeded Cards now advance to the second round, playing the Virginia Cavaliers today, March 9, at 9:30 p.m. The round 2 matchup will be aired live on ESPN 2 from Brooklyn, N.Y.
Louisville will have to learn from previous experiences after losing in their first two matchups against the Cavaliers earlier this season.
In previewing the game, Pegues explained that “[Virginia] is going to punch sometimes in the game and we’ll have to punch back.”
Should the Cards advance, they’ll face the University of North Carolina Tarheels on Thurs., March 10 at 9:30 pm.
Photo Courtesy by Adam Creech // U of L Athletics