It all may have come down to this. The #11 Louisville Cardinals have had a tenuous hold on the top spot in the conference for the last several weeks. #6 Florida State and #7 Duke have been lurking half a game back. Barring an unfortunate March collapse, the Cards’ rematch against the Seminoles would likely be for the ACC crown.
And for the second time this season, Florida State dominated the Cards 82-67.
The Seminoles won handily the last time these two teams met in early January. FSU shot well and their length and athleticism gave the Cards fits. And while Louisville has been all over the place with close games, dominating wins and despairing losses since then; the Seminoles have won all but two games, losing to Virginia and Duke, and have been unbeatable at home.
Both teams were looking to show the conference what time it is, but only the Noles had a working watch.
The teams stayed close in the early game. Cards fans had a scare early in the game when Malik Williams went down with an ankle injury, done for the game. His interior presence would be sorely missed as the game wore on.
Louisville got up to an 11-point lead with 90 seconds left until FSU made a three in the final minute to make the halftime score 40-32 Louisville.
Jordan Nwora had 11 points in the first 20 minutes.
The Cards increased the lead to 12 early in the half but then stopped scoring. Once again Louisville could not match FSU in athleticism. The Seminoles went on 20-3 run in the middle of the half to get a nine-point lead, which they increased to 15 as the game wound down.
Turnovers were a big issue for Louisville, with 13 for the game with FSU converted to 11 points. David Johnson had six turnovers.
There was also a large foul disparity in the game, with the Cards fouling 23 times to the Seminoles 16, which translated into 27 free throws to Louisville’s 14.
Ryan McMahon led the team in the scoring with 14 points on 3-5 shooting. David Johnson was right behind him with 13.
Jordan Nwora did not score in the second half, finishing with 11 points. He did lead the team in rebounds however, pulling down eight boards.
Louisville falls to 23-6 on the season (14-4 ACC). Florida State moves to 24-4 (14-3 ACC).
Having secured the top spot in the conference the Cards will look to hold on to it for two more games, starting with Senior Night against Virginia Tech on March 1.<