One thing that conference play brings is the possibility of an upset on any given night. North Carolina State came in to their afternoon tilt with the ninth-ranked Louisville Cardinals 14 – 11 overall, but had won only five of their seven conference games. In other words, they needed this win over a top 10 team on the road.
Anthony “Cat” Barber made sure the Wolfpack would not go back to Raleigh with a loss. Barber led the Wolfpack with 21 points and dished out 4 assists. He committed only two turnovers against Louisville’s pressure.
Rick Pitino praised the point guard play of Barber saying, “I thought he dominated us tonight at his position. “I think he’s great. Defense, offense, he dominated the game by finding open people. He broke pressure, did a great job.”
Louisville’s two top players, Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier, struggled the entire game. Harrell finished with a game-high 13 rebounds, but scored only 7 points. He attempted only five shots and made one. Pitino was asked about Harrell’s troubles and said, “Well, they trapped the post every time, but Montrezl didn’t offensive rebound like he should have. Like I told him before, ‘They’re going to trap you every time you catch it, so the only way you’re going to be a big-time scorer is to create steals in half-court defense, get out on the break, and then you can duck in and offensive rebound.’ He didn’t do that. He had two offensive rebounds in the game.”
Rozier never found his way, finishing with only seven points and one rebound in 24 minutes of action eventually fouling out with 4:56 remaining. He made only 3 of his 11 field goal attempts.
Wayne Blackshear, who played only one minute in the Cardinals’ last game due to a hip pointer, scored 19 points in 36 minutes. Blackshear was 7 – 10 overall and 4 – 6 from three point range and show no effects of the hip pointer.
Chris Jones led the Cardinals in scoring, but made only 5 of his 16 shots.
With the loss, Louisville fell to 20 – 5 overall and 8 – 4 in the ACC. The Cardinals now go on the road to face Syracuse on Wednesday night. Syracuse is playing for pride as they are not eligible for postseason play. They have always played Louisville tough and this game should be no different.