After needing every minute of an overtime game to beat Pittsburgh the #11 Louisville Cardinals stayed on the road to face their toughest opponent yet, #3 Duke.
And while this game too went down to the wire, Louisville looked a lot more impressive as they beat the Blue Devils 79-73.
The last matchup of these two teams in February 2019 did not end so well for the Cards. They were up by 23 points at one time in the game, only to have the Blue Devils come all the way back and get the victory. Duke has stayed in the top ten all season, and Louisville would like to get back there, and a win over the Blue Devils would probably do it.
In a marked difference from the last couple of games, Louisville came out red-hot, getting up to a 15-point lead with just over ten minutes left to go. The Cards shot almost 59 percent in the first half.
Nothing lasts forever, and eventually Louisville stopped making most of their baskets and Duke was able to fight back. This wasn’t helped by Nwora picking up his second foul with a little over five minutes to go. The Blue Devils got within five points, but the Cards were able keep them at bay, and a last-second three-pointer by Malik Williams gave Louisville a 42-32 halftime lead.
The most amazing part of their offensive performance was that Jordan Nwora was nowhere to be seen. In past games Louisville has lived or died by how Nwora performed, but this contest saw many other players contribute.
Chief among these other Cards was David Johnson. The Louisville native had been battling injuries in the preseason and seemed to be struggling to play up to his potential earlier this year. But he led the team in scoring with 17 point in the first half, while also getting four assists and two blocks.
The Louisville offense sputtered somewhat in the second half which combined with foul trouble to let Duke slowly chip away at the lead. The Blue Devils even tied the game a couple of times as the game would down only to have the Cards respond with a small scoring run to regain the lead. Louisville couldn’t play well enough to get more than a few points ahead though.
Duke scored five straight points to get within one with just over three minutes left, but the Cards went on an 8-0 run including several clutch free throws, to seal the deal for the Cards.
David Johnson led Louisville in scoring with 19 points on 8-12 shooting. He also got seven assists in the game. This was all despite going down with an injury in the closing minutes.
Dwayne Sutton, Malik Williams and Steven Enoch also scored in double-figures.
Despite only having six points, Jordan Nwora was the team’s leading rebounder, grabbing eight boards.
Louisville moves to 15-3 on the year (6-1 ACC).
Duke falls to 15-3 (5-2 ACC).
The Cards finally return home to face Georgia Tech on January 22.<