Bad shooting and even an upset stomach that sent Louisville coach Rick Pitino to the locker room in the second half could damper his mood as Louisville used its smothering defense to defeat the visiting Pittsburgh Panthers 59 – 41. Louisville improved to 14 – 3, 3 – 1 in the ACC.
This was the type of defensive effort Pitino wanted to see out of his team. Even more important is that it came after a road loss to Clemson in which they played anything but good defense.
Louisville held the Panthers to 28.6 percent shooting (14 – 49) and a paltry 9.1 percent (1 – 11) from the three point line. Not only did Pittsburgh shoot horrible from the field, but they made only 12 – 20 from the free throw line. They came into the game leading the country in free throw percentage at 79.3 percent.
The main question in the first half was whether both teams could exceed the total number of points in their regular season football game in which Pittsburgh won 45 – 34. It didn’t look promising as neither team shot over 30 percent. U of L led 20 – 17 at halftime.
As bad as Louisville was in the first half offensively they were equally as good defensively. The Panthers scored only seven points in the final 11:40 of the first half.
The second half was a stark contrast on one side of the ball for Louisville. The Cardinals made 12 of their 19 shots for 63.2 percent while once again holding the Panthers to subpar shooting.
With the outside shots not falling, Louisville went inside to get their offense going. Chinanu Onuaku once again is showing what he can do when he stays on the court and out of foul trouble. He led the
Cardinals with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks. It was Onuaku’s fourth consecutive double-double.
For the second consecutive game Damion Lee, the Cardinals’ leading scorer and best outside shooter,
failed to make a three point basket. However, unlike the loss at Clemson in which he was held to six points, he did other things to help the team. Lee did score 18 points, but it was his defense and rebounding that made Pitino happy. Lee led the team with four steals and grabbed five rebounds. He even got Pitino to pump his fist after a steal and a coast-to-coast layup at the other end while drawing the foul.
Louisville now has six days until their next game. Florida State comes into the KFC Yum Center next Wednesday for another 9:00 game.