Rick Pitino has always said built his teams on depth. That was none more evident than No. 16 Louisville’s 77 – 72 win on the road over NC State. Donovan Mitchell started in place of sophomore Quentin Snider. With Mitchell not playing his best game and Trey Lewis saddled with early foul trouble, Snider came in to the rescue. All Snider did was finish with a career-high 21 points.
Shot making has been a problem for Snider this season, but he is at his best running the offense as the Cardinals lead point guard. His shot was pure against the Wolfpack. Snider was 7 – 11 from the field and 3 – 5 from three point range.
The Cardinals had it going in the first half leading by as much as 14 when Jaylen Johnson followed up a missed shot with a thunderous dunk. The Wolfpack would cut into the Cardinals’ lead and trailed by only five, 34 – 29.
Former Louisville recruits Anthony “Cat” Barber and Maverick Rowan kept the Wolfpack close in the second half. Barber, NC State’s leading scorer, led the Wolfpack with 20 points, but made only 7 of his 22 shots. Rowan, who reclassified in order to play this season, finished with 17 points. Rowan, known as a sharpshooter, was 4 – 8 from behind the arc.
It was a tight game in the second half when NC State’s Abdul-Malik Adu made a layup and was fouled by Damion Lee. Adu made the free throw to excite the Wolfpack crowd and bring his team to within three with 11:19 to play. Adu played a great game finishing with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
The Cardinals then went on an 18 to 5 over the next 7:52 to push the lead to 71 – 55. Raymond Spalding started the run off for U of L with a layup and a dunk off a lob pass from Lee. Spalding came off of the bench to score 12 points on 6 – 8 shooting.
Things got a little scary for the Cardinals as NC State scored 12 straight points to within 4 at 71 – 67. Damion Lee then scored a quick layup to push the lead back to six and it looked as if the Cardinals would hold on, but the speedy Barber went coast-to-coast for a layup to keep the Wolfpack in it. Jalen Johnson was fouled and stepped up to hit both free throws. Barber then repeated his coast-to-coast effort and scored again, only this time he was fouled inexplicably by Trey Lewis. Barber made the free throw to make it 75 – 72.
Lee, the Cardinals’ leading scorer and top free throw shooter, was fouled and went to the line to ice the game. Lee missed both free throws to give the Wolfpack one more chance. Barber then committed a turnover and Lee redeemed himself by hitting both free throws. Lee finished with 13 points.
Chinanu Onuaku was once again strong on the inside finishing with his second straight double-double. He scored 12 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
With the win, Louisville improved to 13 – 2 on the season and 2 – 0 in the ACC. NC State fell to 10 – 5 and 0 – 2 in the ACC.
Louisville travels to face Clemson on Sunday at 12 for its next game.