Out of the last 15 top ten opponents to visit the Petersen Events Center, only two have walked away victorious. The tenth-ranked Louisville Cardinals became the third top ten opponent to come away with a victory. The Cardinals played one of their more complete games of the season in defeating the Panthers 80 – 68.
This Louisville team has been one of Rick Pitino’s most anemic teams offensively during his tenure with the Cardinals. They came into Sunday’s game shooting only 42.7 percent from the field (12th in the ACC) and 29.4 percent from three point range (13th in the ACC). It was a completely different team against Pittsburgh. U of L shot a season-best 65.2 percent from the field. The 65.2 percent was only the fourth time all season the Cardinals have surpassed 50 percent shooting.
When U of L’s starting guard tandem plays as well as they did against Pittsburgh, the Cardinals will be hard to beat. Rozier paced U of L with 26 points on 10 – 16 shooting. Jones scored 17 points and made 6 of his 10 shots.
It wasn’t just the scoring of Rozier and Jones that was impressive. They tallied 15 of the Cardinals’ 19 assists with Jones totaling nine and Rozier six. Both guards both grabbed five rebounds as well.
Montrezl Harrell has struggled for the past four games, averaging only nine points and making only 43.8 percent of his shots. His biggest problem has been his inability to get the ball in the post and score from inside. Harrell scored 18 points on 8 of 12 shooting. Most of his points came from inside 10 feet, something that Pitino has implored him to start doing. His 18 points pushed him past the 1000 point mark for his career.
Louisville was in control for most of the game. The Panthers had no answer for Rozier in the first half. Rozier scored 18 of his 26 points from outside, inside, and on the break. The Cardinals jumped out to a 40 – 30 lead at the half.
The second half began the way that much of the season has gone for U of L. Long scoring droughts have often plagued the Cardinals this season. Pittsburgh cut U of L’s lead to five, 40 – 35. The Cardinals went a total of seven minutes without a point. For a while it looked as if the Panthers were going to take control of the game, but that would not happen on this day. Harrell dunked off a dish from Jones, Jones made a three, and reserve Mangok Mathiang made a three-point play to push the lead to 48 – 35. Pittsburgh would get no closer than eight the rest of the way.
Louisville will play their second straight road game Wednesday at 9:00 P.M. at Boston College (9 – 9 overall, 1 – 5 in the ACC).