Louisville Senior point guard Chris Jones has struggled mightily through the non-conference portion of the schedule and the No. 5 Cardinals still began the season winning 12 of their first 13 games. Coach Rick Pitino had some advice for his point guard saying, “All Chris Jones has to do to be one of the better point guards in the country is listen.” Pitino said right now Jones is “listening about 70 percent of the time”.
Jones heeded his coaches’ advice, listened and had his best game of the season in U of L’s 85 – 76 win over Wake Forest in their first game in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Jones scored 22 points and dished out a career-high 10 assists. This all came after he was held out of the starting lineup and played only nine minutes against Long Beach State for his egregious flopping against top-ranked Kentucky.
The timing of his solid play was even more significant. With Terry Rozier picking up his fourth foul with 8:42 left in the game and Wake Forest trimming U of L’s lead to one, Jones decided to turn up his game. He scored 14 of the Cardinals’ final 21 points. Many of the shots were with the shot clock running down.
Jones’ shooting has become the overwhelming story of his senior season. He came into the game shooting 30.8 percent from the field and under 30 percent from three-point range. Tonight he made 7 of his 13 attempts and 8 of 9 from the free throw line.
Jones was not the only star of the night for U of L. Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell continued their solid play. Rozier scored 18 points on 8 of 14 shooting in only 25 minutes due to foul trouble.
Harrell continued to show why he was a pre-season All-American by scoring 25 points and grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds. He owned the first half by scoring 25 points in a variety of ways. Two three-pointers, follow up tip-ins, and of course two monster dunks displayed his versatility.
Shaqquan Aaron is starting to show how much he can help the Cardinals on the offensive end. Aaron played 23 minutes and scored 11 points and grabbed 5 rebounds in his most extensive action yet.
Wake Forest gave the Cardinals all it could handle thanks to the career game by junior forward Devin Thomas. Thomas scored a career-high 31 points and grabbed 11 rebounds on 11 of 14 shooting. The only problem with his game was his inability to put the ball in the basket with nobody guarding him. He finished 9 of 17 from the free throw line.
Louisville improved to 13 – 1 while Wake Forest fell to 8 – 7 on the season.
Louisville returns to the KFC Yum Center on Wednesday night for a 9:00 tipoff against Clemson.