With one look at the box score from Tuesday night’s matchup between No. 5 ranked Louisville and No. 14 Ohio State one could determine that it was not a pretty one. However, to watch it in person, you could realize the beauty of this game lied in the defense being played by both teams.
Louisville dominated the first half with the type of hard-nosed defense that fans have come to expect from a Rick Pitino coached team. The Cardinals held the Buckeyes to 6-for-26 shooting in the first half for a paltry 23.1% while jumping out to a 35 – 18 halftime lead.
The only negative for the Cardinals in the first half was the foul trouble of both of their big men, Chinanu Onuaku and Mangok Mathiang. Pitino has been searching for bench help during the early part of the season. Tonight’s star off of the bench was a surprising one in freshman, Anas Mahmoud. Mahmoud played 24 minutes and finished with 3 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots.
Wayne Blackshear’s biggest knock during his U of L career has been that he hasn’t showed up in the big games. He changed that perception tonight by coming up huge to the tune of 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals in a team-high 38 minutes. He finished 4-for-8 from three point range.
Terry Rozier struggled with his shot the entire night, but came up big when it mattered most hitting two threes and making a driving layup in the last 3:49 of the game. Offensively his game was offensive for most of the game. However, he did contribute in a big way in other areas. He finished with 7 rebounds and 7 assists.
Pitino had this to say about Rozier, “He took the big shot when we were up three to give us the lead, and that’s a hell of a thing for a guy like that to do. I thought Terry Rozier, who didn’t have his jump shot early, was getting every rebound, making big plays, and I thought he was great down the stretch.”
The Cardinals got a scare in the second half when Rozier hurt his hand and was seen holding it during the action. Timeout was called and he went over to see the trainer, Fred Hina. It turned out to be only a dislocated finger. He got it popped in place and was immediately ready to go back in the game.
Ohio State kept chopping at the lead eventually getting to within 4 points with 30 seconds remaining. Louisville native, DeAngelo Russell, led the charge in the after picking up his fourth foul early in the second half. Russell finished with 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists.
Buckeye point guard Shannon Scott came in to the game leading the country with 10.4 assists per game. He was held to 0 assists and committed 5 turnovers.
Louisville’s defense was not as sharp in the second half, but did enough to hold off the surging Buckeyes. They held Ohio State to 30.4 percent shooting for the game.
The fifth-ranked Cardinals return to the KFC Yum Center on Friday evening to face Florida International.