The last remaining goal of the Louisville Cardinals basketball team is to win the ACC regular season title.
They took a big step towards that goal Saturday as they beat Duke 71 – 64 in front of 22,785 fans. The win pushed Louisville’s record to 21 – 6 overall and 10 – 4 in the conference, one game behind North Carolina.
Rick Pitino was asked in the postgame press conference what this type of game and atmosphere means for the team. His response did not just include the team, but the fans and community as well saying, “I think it means a lot. Look, we don’t have a whole lot. And it’s going to really hit them on the last home game and the last away game. It’s going to hit them hard. It’s going to be very difficult on selection Sunday for all of us. That being said, both of those guys wouldn’t trade their experience at Louisville for any NCAA experience. So, our fans and everybody, including the coaches and team, have given them all the love they could possibly ask for.”
Deng Adel was a surprise starter for the Cardinals. He did not disappoint with his effort and his production. Adel finished with 12 points, five rebounds, and two assists. Pitino was not shy in his praise for Adel, “I thought he was terrific defensively as well as offensively. I thought he was terrific.”
Damion Lee started off slowly for the Cards in the first half, but came up huge offensively in the second half. Lee led U of L with 24 points.
Chinanu Onuaku had a solid all-around game for the Cardinals. He finished with his tenth double-double of the season finishing with 10 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks, and three assists.
The crowd was loud throughout, but never as loud and boisterous as they were with 12:58 to play in the second half. Both Jaylen Johnson and Grayson Allen were on the ground going for a loose ball. After the tie up Johnson appeared to inadvertently elbow Allen in the face. After a review, Johnson was assessed a technical foul. Allen hit one of two free throws to put the Blue Devils up 48 – 37. Allen and has been a lightning rod all season and in two games against U of L he has not endeared himself to the Cardinal faithful. He was called for a technical in the first game after he deliberately tripped Raymond Spalding.
Depth was a key reason U of L was able to come back and win the game. Duke, playing with only six players, wore down due to the Cardinals’ consistent pressure in the second half. U of L forces the Blue Devils into 18 turnovers.
Duke’s star freshman, Brandon Ingram, started out with six points in the first two minutes of the game, but scored just two more the rest of the game. U of L’s defense on Ingram was just another reason they were able to win. The Cardinals forces Ingram into ten turnovers.
Greyson Allen, the second leading scorer in the ACC, led all scorers with 29 points, but fouled out on a charging call with 3:55 left in the game. He compounded the foul by screaming at an official and               receiving a technical foul.
Louisville next game is Wednesday on the road against Pittsburgh.