The slaughterhouse that was February is over and the final month of the regular begins for the Cards as they face Notre Dame.
After weeks of late-game collapses, Louisville closed out the second half and beat the Fighting Irish 75-61 to snap their three-game losing streak.
Cards fans no doubt remember the slugfests the team had over countless overtime periods during the Rick Pitino era. While Notre Dame have struggled this year thanks in part of injury and other issues, they have still played some of the best teams in the conference down to the wire, and would almost certainly do the same for a Louisville team that was desperate for positive momentum going into the postseason.
In the early game, the Cards would get up to a seven or eight-point lead only to have Notre Dame close the gap.
Louisville shot much better from field goal range, particularly inside, in the first 20 minutes but could only make one of their 12 three-pointers for the half which allowed the Irish to stay close and to head into halftime only down 29-24.
Jordan Nwora had nine points for the half.
The second half played out much better for the Cards, thanks to continued interior domination and also fatigue setting in a thin Irish rotation. Louisville got the lead up to 18 points at one time.
While fans were waiting for the other shoe to drop and for the Irish to come back, the Cards kept the pressure on inside and kept making shots to keep Notre Dame at bay for the win.
The main key for Louisville this game was being overwhelming inside the paint. They out rebounded the Irish 49-30, outscored them in the paint 46-26, and score 18 second chance points.
This was a welcome change from pretty much of all of last month, which saw the Cards get rolled inside and having to rely on perimeter shooting to compete.
Nwora and Malik Williams each had double-doubles. Nwora finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds, Williams scored 16 while grabbing 13 boards.
Christen Cunningham also scored in double figures with 14.
Much has been made of VJ King’s struggles this season. After coming to the team as a highly-rated prospect and staying through the chaos of last season, he had not provided many quality minutes this year. This game saw him score six points, ten rebounds and two assists.
Louisville moves to 19-11 on the season (10-7 ACC). Notre Dame falls to 13-16 (3-13 ACC).
The Cards close out the regular season with a road rematch against #2 Virginia on March 9.<