After a grueling overtime loss against Pitt, Louisville sought to get another ranked win against #12 North Carolina.
Despite being a significant underdog, the Cards shot the ball and played with a toughness as yet unseen this season, and upset the Tar Heels 83-62.
The Tar Heels have traditionally been a national powerhouse, and this year is no different. They have not been perfect, however, with several flaws appearing this season and two out of their three previous losses came to teams either unranked or ranked lower than UNC.
Louisville continued a conference season that is only going to get tougher as the games wear on. The Cards had to be mindful of the types of wins and losses gained in ACC play if they want to be in a good position to make the NCAA tournament. A road win against a ranked opponent would certainly help their chances.
Louisville exploded out of the gate, making their first seven shots including four three-pointers to jump out to a 18-8 lead.
They eventually missed some baskets, but still stayed ahead of the Tar Heels, getting the lead up to 14 points at one time in the first 20 minutes. North Carolina battled back and got the deficit to 43-34 going into halftime.
The Cards shot just under 55 percent for the half, led by 11 points from Steven Enoch.
They had played impressively and bloodied UNC’s nose in the first half, but fans and players alike braces for the second-half Tar Heel charge that was certain to come.
It never came.
While neither team shot very well, Louisville slowly but surely kept increasing the lead as the game wore on. The Cards were up by as much as 22 before the game ended.
It was the first time Louisville had beaten the Tar Heels at the Dean Dome.
For the Cards, this was the Enoch, Sutton and Nwora show. All three scored 17 points each, and Sutton and Enoch also earned double-doubles.
Enoch is a big man who has shown some promise this season but tends to get into foul trouble. He had 17 points and 11 boards, his first career double-double.
Sutton has been a consistently impressive player on all sides of the ball and was again today, grabbing 10 rebounds while also getting seven assists along with his 17 points.
Jordan Nwora had usually been Louisville’s primary if not only scorer, but he struggled against Pitt and only shot 1-7 from three-point range. He turned it around in this game, making five of his eight treys for 17 points.
The Cards were able to take advantage of the Tar Heels recent propensity to turn the ball over. UNC had 23 turnovers in their last game against NC State, and the trend continued as the Tar Heels turned it over 15 times in this matchup.
Louisville struggled in some areas. Free throws had been a key part of the Louisville offense for most of the season, but this contest saw them only hitting 16-26 from the charity stripe.
Louisville moves to 11-5 on the season (2-1 ACC). North Carolina falls to 14-2 on the year (2-1 ACC).
The Cards ride this wave of momentum all the way home to face Boston College on January 16.<
Chris Acree joined The Cardinal Connect as a contributing writer in August of 2016.