Trips to Miami are usually for vacations, not business. For the ninth-ranked University of Louisville basketball team it was business as usual as they led wire-to-wire in defeating the host Miami Hurricanes, 63 – 55.
Right now it is the big three of Terry Rozier, Chris Jones, and Montrezl Harrell leading the way for the Cardinals. They combined to score 56 of U of L’s 63 points while playing 117 out of a possible 120 minutes.
Jones has become the leader Rick Pitino has wanted him to become. He has been solid in ACC play and tonight’s game was no different. Jones’ solid all-around play helped the Cardinals stay in control the entire game. He finished with 16 points, 8 rebounds, 6 steals, and 5 assists. Pitino’s only gripe about his play may have been the foul he committed as Miami’s Manu Lecomte attempted a deep three. Other than that, not much was wrong with Jones’ game.
Terry Rozier was solid once again, leading U of L with 22 points. He also grabbed six rebounds and had three steals. At one point in the second half Rozier scored 12 straight points for the Cardinals. Every time Miami would trim the lead it was Rozier who hit the big shot to keep Louisville ahead.
Montrezl Harrell shook off a nasty fall in the first half and then a knee to the midsection in the second half to score 18 points to go along with his 9 rebounds. However, the biggest play was made late in the second half with Louisville leading by five. Harrell grabbed the rebound off of a missed free throw by James Palmer and was immediately fouled. Harrell, a career 47.7 percent free throw shooter, calmly went to the line and nailed both free throws to put the Cardinals ahead seven with 52 seconds to play.
It look as if Louisville was on its way to an easy win as it had its biggest lead at 41 – 28 with 15:52 remaining in the second half, but Miami’s Davon Reed hit three consecutive threes to trim the lead to four, 41 – 37. Reed led Miami with 19 points and only missed one of his eight shots.
For the fourth straight game Wayne Blackshear’s offense was nonexistent for most of the game. However, just as he did against North Carolina, he hit a huge shot when Louisville needed it most. Miami cut the Louisville lead to three with 2:06 remaining. Blackshear drove the lane and hit a short jumper to put the Cardinals ahead by five with just under two minutes left.
With the win Louisville improved its record to 19 – 3 overall and 7 – 2 in the ACC. Miami’s record fell to 14 – 8 overall and 4 – 5 in the ACC. Louisville now must face one of its toughest tests of the season as they travel to Virginia to take on the third-ranked Cavaliers. It will be a critical game for both teams as the winner will stay firmly in the race for the ACC crown.