Cardinal Basketball

Louisville 56 – Clemson 55: Cards Avoid Another Collapse

Tim Easley – AP

After having their very souls ripped out in the final ten minutes against #2 Duke, the #16 Louisville Cardinals hoped to stop the bleeding against Clemson.

The Cards nearly gave the game away again in the final seconds, but in the snapped a two-game losing streak with a 56-55 win.

Louisville was coming off two losses that could have easily been victories, and while a NCAA-tournament berth was practically assured going into this game, the team certainly wanted to win again and prove they belonged among the nation’s elite.

Clemson started the season ranked, even getting up to 16th in the opening weeks, but may have played their way out of tournament consideration in the months after, wilting against Power 5 competition. They are desperate for a marquee win to keep their NCAA hopes alive.

Neither team was playing very well in the first half, and as a result could stayed low-scoring and close. The Cards appeared a little hungover from their last loss, and two early Nwora fouls meant that they couldn’t get a consistent offense together.

Louisville spent most of the last ten minutes of the half playing catch-up, and could not get a run together to get the lead. A Clemson three-pointer in the final seconds sent the Cards into halftime down 23-19.

Nwora scored Louisville’s first six points, butt that was the only points he’d be able to score in the half, which also happened to lead the Cards.

Both teams combined for 18 fields goals and turnovers for the half.

The early part of the second half was much of the same, with the Tigers actually increasing their lead to seven at one point before Louisville was able to close the gap, going on an 8-0 run to get ahead. But the teams continued to swap baskets and stay neck-and-neck.

The Cards went on another run with around five minutes to go to get a seven-point lead, their largest of the game to that point. But again Clemson came back to get within one.

As fans were having flashbacks to the final minutes of the Duke game, Jordan Nwora flew in and got fouled on a thunderous dunk, hitting the ensuing free throw to get the lead back up to four, which was part of a 7-0 Louisville run that gave them an eight-point lead.

The Tigers had not given up, however, and went on a 8-1 run in the final 30 seconds to get back within one with less than four seconds to go.

Clemson stole the inbounds pass underneath their own basket, but fortunately Nwora was able to block one potential game winner, only to have the Tigers recover the ball. They missed their next shot as the buzzer sounded and the Cards got the win.

Christen Cunningham, who was scoreless against Duke, led all scorers with 18 points on 6-11 shooting. Nwora also scored in double figures.

Steven Enoch led the team on the boards, grabbing eight rebounds.

In addition to their poor shooting, the Cards also struggled on the boards, getting outrebounded 42-29, including 10 offensive rebounds that allowed the Tigers to get seven second-chance points.

Louisville moves to 18-8 on the season (9-4 ACC). Clemson falls to 15-10 (5-7 ACC).

Louisville heads back on the road to face their only other unranked opponent this month, Syracuse, on February 20.

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