You won’t win many games shooting 29.5 percent from the field. You won’t win many games making only 4 out of 25 three-pointers. You definitely won’t win a game against a formidable opponent the likes of the No. 4 ranked Duke Blue Devils.
A crowd of 22,791, the sixth largest crowd in the KFC Yum Center’s history, watched No. 6 Louisville simply fail to get anything going by not putting the ball in the basket its 63 – 52 loss. The Cardinals fell to 15 – 3 on the season and 3 – 2 in the conference. Duke improved to 15 – 2 and 3 – 2 in the conference.
In what was one of the most anticipated matchups in the Yum Center’s history, Duke made the Cardinals beat them by making outside shots. Coach Mike Kryzewski is not one to employ a zone defense. His team used a zone as much as he has ever had to use it. Louisville coach Rick Pitino knows exactly how to play his cold shooting team saying after the game, “We’ll continue to work because Duke is a team that never plays zone and they played us tonight and that is what I would have done if I were in Mike Krzyzewski’] shoes.”
Chris Jones had been playing incredible basketball through the first four games of the conference season. During those games he averaged 17.5 points and 7 assists while shooting 49 percent. Saturday was not his day. He finished with five points and four assists. He hit on only 2 of his 10 field goal attempts.
Jones picked up his second foul early in the first half after making a turnover. When asked if Jones’ early second foul affected U of L Pitino said, “It affected us, but…you need three great guards to have a great backcourt… because that happens in a game. The problem is he lost the ball, got emotionally upset, tried to steal it back, and fouled. That’s the mistake. You can’t do that. You’ve got to be a senior. You’ve got to say, `That’s okay. I lost the ball. Not a big deal.’ Not an embarrassment, but it’s not a big deal.”
Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell were the only Cardinals in double figures. Rozier scored 17 points, but was 5 – 16 from the field. Harrell scored 10 points and finished with a game-high 14 rebounds.
Louisville outrebounded the Blue Devils 38 – 32 and held a commanding 18 – 5 advantage on the offensive end. However, they could not capitalize on second chance points or this would have been a much different outcome.
Jahlil Okafor played like a potential number one draft pick. Okafor dominated inside and finished with 18 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. None of U of L’s centers were any match for Okafor as he used his power and footwork to get to the basket any time he wanted especially in the second half when he scored 14 of his 18 points.
Amile Jefferson led Duke with 19 points on 6 – 7 shooting and grabbed 7 rebounds. He and Okafor combined for 37 points and 14 rebounds and missed only 3 shots.
The Cardinals took a 12 – 9 lead early on as Wayne Blackshear drove down the lane and slammed home a monstrous dunk to put the crowd in a frenzy. It was short-lived as freshman Matt Jones came right back down and nailed his second three pointer to tie the score at 12. Jones finished with only six points (all in the first half), but both threes were significant in taking the crowd out of the game.
Louisville would never lead again as Duke outscored Louisville 21 to 8 to close out the half with a 30 – 20 lead.
The second half would get no better for the Cardinals as Duke storme out with a 16 – 5 run in the first 8 minutes to hold its biggest lead at 46 – 25.
Louisville now has eight days to work on improving their game. They will travel to Pittsburgh on the 25th to take on the Panthers.
*Montrezl Harrell needs just two points to reach 1000 points for his career.
*Terry Rozier scored in double figures for the 17th time in 18 games this season.
*Louisville holds a 6 – 4 advantage all-time against Duke.