Rick Pitino

Virginia guard London Perrantes, left, steals the ball from Louisville center Chinanu Onuaku, right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, March 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
AP Photo/Steve Helber

No. 4 Virginia clamps down on No. 11 Louisville

Leave a comment

In boxing there’s the old adage of “styles make fights,” with those styles either producing instant classics or absolute mismatches. When it comes to No. 4 Virginia and No. 11 Louisville this season, it was clear in their two meetings that the Cavaliers were a bad matchup for the Cardinals. Saturday night Tony Bennett’s team completed a sweep of the season series with a 68-46 win in Charlottesville, and it was Virginia’s seniors who led the way.

Malcolm Brogdon, who is seen by many as the favorite to earn ACC Player of the Year honors next week, scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half and Anthony Gill added 15 points and four rebounds. But the senior star on this night was none other than Mike Tobey, who scored 15 points and corralled a staggering 20 rebounds on the night.

Tobey became the first Virginia player since Travis Watson in 2003 to grab at least 20 boards in a game, and his total was just eight fewer than Louisville tallied as a team. The rebounding number was just one aspect of this beating, a game in which Virginia controlled the action in all areas. Virginia committed 13 turnovers but shot 51.3 percent from the field, supplementing their scoring from the field with a 23-for-30 night from the foul line.

As for the defense, that was the biggest reason why Virginia is a bad matchup for Louisville. The Cavaliers limited the Cardinals to 27.6 percent shooting from the field, with Louisville getting just 14 attempts from the foul line (making ten). Gill’s ability as a defender in ball screens is well-known by this point, but he wasn’t the only Virginia big man who performed well.

Louisville’s guards were unable to turn the corner, and on many occasions the ball stayed on one side of the floor as a result. Quality shots were tough to come by, as one would expect when playing against Virginia’s pack line defense, and Louisville struggled mightily. In the first meeting, the Cardinals shot 32.7 percent from the field and had many of the same issues. Much was made of Virginia’s defense earlier this season and the underrated impact of Darion Atkins’ departure, and there was some work to be done when it came to how big men other than Gill defended in ball screen actions.

There were no such issues Saturday night, and as a result the Cavaliers will be the two-seed at next week’s ACC tournament. And if they can continue to defend at this level, Tony Bennett’s team will have a good shot at winning their second ACC tournament in the last three years.

No. 19 Louisville rolls past Boston College 79-47

Surrounded by teammates, Louisville graduate students Damion Lee, seated left, and Trey Lewis meet with reporters during a press conference, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, in Louisville Ky.  The president of Louisville announced a one-year postseason ban Friday for the Cardinals men’s basketball team amid ongoing investigations into a sex scandal, a decision that stunned coach Rick Pitino. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley
Leave a comment

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Trey Lewis scored 16 points and Deng Adel added 13 as No. 19 Louisville routed Boston College 79-47 on Saturday, a day after the school imposed a postseason ban for recruiting violations.

The Cardinals (19-4, 8-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) followed up Monday’s upset of No. 2 North Carolina with a lopsided win despite uneven stretches. The absence of leading scorer Damion Lee (bruised knee) impacted their rotation, but plenty of teammates stepped up to fill the void in an emotional game.

Several baskets by Lewis midway through the second half help spark a 10-0 run that got Louisville back out to a comfortable lead en route to keeping the Eagles (7-16, 0-10) winless in league play.

Donovan Mitchell added 10 points, Quentin Snider and Jaylen Johnson each had nine and Chinanu Onuaku added eight with 13 rebounds.

Sammy Barnes-Thompkins scored 11 points for Boston College before fouling out.

Even with their top scorer on the bench in street clothes, the Cardinals got the dominant win they wanted one day after an announcement by Louisville’s president that the team would not play in either the ACC or NCAA tournaments. President James Ramsey said an investigation revealed that violations did occur when the school reviewed allegations by escort Katina Powell that former staffer Andre McGee paid her and other dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players.

Lee and Lewis – graduate transfers who came to Louisville with hopes of playing in the tournament – said the team wanted to make the most of its nine remaining games with a focus on holding serve at home. Other than a few lapses that allowed Boston College to get within single digits, the Cardinals used most of their bench to that end.

The Cardinals made 16 of 26 from the field after intermission to finish at 51 percent. They controlled the paint 44-20 and out-rebounded Boston College 38-30.

Louisville’s reserves outscored the Eagles 24-12, chipping in some key points for a 32-14 lead at the break despite 42 percent shooting. Johnson’s seven points led nine Cardinal scorers and featured a 3-pointer by reserve David Levitch late in the half.

Boston College meanwhile started 1 of 7 from the field and shot just 30 percent in a first half, which included 11 turnovers leading to 12 Louisville points. Those struggles made it easy for the Cardinals to mount a 17-0 run over 4:05 for a 19-2 lead and an advantage that reached 19.

The Eagles showed some life early in the second half with five straight baskets to get within 37-28 and create some uneasiness before Lewis took charge.

TIP-INS

Boston College: Dennis Clifford added nine points for the Eagles, who shot 39 percent. … Saturday’s game ended a three-game road stretch against ranked teams.

Louisville: The Cardinals’ 1956 NIT Championship team was honored in a halftime ceremony that featured several members. … Louisville took a 4-3 lead in the series and remained unbeaten at home against BC.

UP NEXT:

Boston College: Hosts No. 2 North Carolina on Tuesday.

Louisville: Visits Duke on Monday.

Louisville self-imposes postseason ban as part of NCAA investigation

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino reacts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Clemson, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
AP Photo/Richard Shiro
7 Comments

Friday afternoon news dumps are rarely positive, and that was the case for the Louisville basketball program.

A source confirmed to NBC Sports that as part of the ongoing NCAA investigation into allegations levied by former escort Katina Powell, the school has declared the men’s basketball team ineligible for postseason play this season. The investigation has yet to be completed, and the NCAA has yet to send Louisville an official Notice of Allegations, but the school has decided to take this preemptive step.

During a press conference in which the school made the news official, head coach Rick Pitino noted that “speaking to the team and watch the players cry” was one of the hardest things he’s had to deal with in his coaching career. The players hurt the most for Damion Lee and Trey Lewis, grad students who transferred to Louisville in hopes of experiencing the NCAA tournament. 

This is the second consecutive season in which an ACC team has self-imposed a postseason ban in the middle of the year, with Syracuse doing so in 2014-15. In regards to this season, Louisville joins Missouri, Pacific, Southern Miss and SMU as programs that have announced postseason bans for their programs.

The Cardinals are currently ranked 19th in the AP Poll, with an overall record of 18-4 with a 7-2 record in ACC play. Considered a lock for the NCAA tournament, Louisville is also in position to win the ACC regular season title after handing No. 2 North Carolina its first loss of the season Monday night.

Now, that’s the only honor a team led by two players in Lee and Lewis who transferred to Louisville in hopes of competing for a national title can aim for.

News of the self-imposed sanction was first reported by Kentucky Sports Radio.

Lee’s 29 lead No. 16 Louisville past Virginia Tech, 91-83

Leave a comment

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) Damion Lee scored 29 points and No. 16 Louisville used superb shooting from behind the 3-point arc to overcome foul trouble and beat Virginia Tech 91-83 on Wednesday night.

Lee hit his first six tries from long range and Trey Lewis made four 3s in the second half for the Cardinals (17-3, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference). Lewis finished with 22 points, all but two coming after halftime.

Jalen Hudson scored 27 points, Seth Allen had 26 and Zach LeDay 20 for the Hokies (12-9, 4-4), who have dropped three in a row since a surprising 4-1 start to conference play. Virginia Tech stayed in the game by making 33 of 38 free throws, but allowed the Cardinals to hit 12 3-pointers in 18 attempts.

The Cardinals arrived with the nation’s top field goal percentage defense (36.4 percent), and the second-stingiest scoring defense (58.8 points), but much of their interior presence was taken away quickly as 6-foot-10 Chinanu Onuaku was whistled for two quick fouls.

Onuaku was never much of a factor, but the Cardinals stepped outside to make up for it.

Lee, a graduate transfer from Drexel, finished 6 of 7 from deep. Lewis, a graduate transfer from Cleveland State, went 4 of 7, their shots continually breaking any momentum the crowd at Cassell Coliseum tried to encourage.

In the closing minutes, with the Hokies forced to foul, the Cardinals were on target from the line as well, preventing Virginia Tech from getting any closer than six down the stretch. Louisville finished 25 of 34 at the free throw line.

Jaylen Johnson had 11 points for Louisville. Justin Bibbs scored 10 for the Hokies.

The Cardinals hit six 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes of the second half, opening a 67-57 lead, and appeared poised to put the Hokies away. But Virginia Tech continued driving the ball to the basket, getting Onuaku and 7-footer Anas Mahmoud into foul trouble – both eventually fouled out – and the Hokies made their free throws.

The Hokies led 20-12 before going more than 10 minutes without a field goal and getting just 12 points on free throws. The Cardinals used a 12-2 run to take a 24-22 lead, and closed the half on Lee’s buzzer-beating fourth 3-pointer of the half to lead 38-34 at the break.

TIP-INS

Louisville: Onuaku arrived at Cassell Coliseum as the first Cardinals player in 22 years to record six consecutive double-doubles, but was whistled for two personal fouls in 3 minutes and sat out the rest of the first half. He finished with nine points and five rebounds.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies were 17 for 18 from the foul line and outscored Louisville 17-5 from the line in the first half.

UP NEXT

Louisville is at home against No. 11 Virginia on Saturday.

The Hokies play at Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Follow Hank on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/hankkurzjr

The AP’s college basketball page: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org

Lee, Mahmoud lead No. 17 Louisville past Georgia Tech 75-71

Louisville guards Donovan Mitchell (45) and Damion Lee (0) celebrate after defeating Georgia Tech  75-71 in an NCAA college basketball game  Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in Atlanta.  (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
AP Photo/John Bazemore
1 Comment

ATLANTA (AP) Damion Lee scored 17 points, Anas Mahmoud added 15 and No. 17 Louisville held on in the closing seconds to beat hard-luck Georgia Tech 75-71 on Saturday.

In a back-and-forth game that was close all the way, Mahmoud was in the middle of a crucial sequence with 1:01 remaining that helped the Cardinals (16-3, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) claim their third straight win.

With the scored tied at 69, the 7-foot sophomore got free under the basket for a pass from Trey Lewis. Georgia Tech’s Marcus Georges-Hunt came in from behind to make the block, but he appeared to get Mahmoud with the body. Georges-Hunt, who led the Yellow Jackets with 23 points, fouled out on the play.

Mahmoud made both free throws to give Louisville a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Georgia Tech (11-8, 1-5) has lost its five ACC games by a total of 26 points.

After Mahmoud’s free throws, Georgia Tech struggled to get off a shot with Georges-Hunt on the bench. Tadric Jackson drove toward the lane, tried to make an awkward pass back to Adam Smith, only to have Lee step in for the steal.

The Yellow Jackets were forced to foul Quentin Snider, who made both free throws with 25.2 seconds remaining. Smith scored on a driving layup to give Georgia Tech one more chance, but Donovan Mitchell knocked down two free throws to seal the victory.

Lewis and Chinanu Onuaku had 12 points each for the Cardinals. Mitchell chipped in with 11.

Georges-Hunt carried the offensive load for the Yellow Jackets, drawing foul after foul before he fouled out. He finished 12 of 12 at the free throw line. Nick Jacobs had 16 points, and Smith finished with 12.

Georgia Tech closed the first half on a 7-0 run to take a 39-32 lead. The Cardinals really bogged down in the closing minutes of the period, missing 10 of their last 12 shots. Overall, they shot just 33 percent before halftime.

It was the Yellow Jackets who started slowly in the second half. Louisville forced three quick turnovers, scoring the first seven points to pull back into a tie. It was tight the rest of the way.

Louisville came into the game ranked 15th nationally in field goal shooting, hitting 49.2 percent. The Cardinals rallied from the slow start to make 15 of 25 in the second half.

TIP-INS

Louisville: Onuaku had his sixth straight double-double, also pulling down 11 rebounds. … Lewis surpassed 1,300 points in his career during the first half. … The Cardinals shot 44.3 percent (27 of 61) from the field.

Georgia Tech: Outrebounded the Cardinals 41-33 to keep up its strong play on the boards. Jacobs and Charles Mitchell has 10 rebounds apiece. … The Yellow Jackets went with a three-guard lineup, giving Travis Jorgenson his first start of the season in place of Quinton Stephens. The other starters remained the same. … Georges-Hunt had a spectacular block with about 9 minutes remaining, after Louisville appeared to be setting up for an easy basket. Mitchell swiped the ball from Jorgenson in the backcourt, and Lee took a pass all alone beneath the basket. But as Lee went up for an apparent dunk, Georges-Hunt raced back to knock it away.

UP NEXT

Louisville: At Virginia Tech on Wednesday night.

Georgia Tech: At North Carolina State on Wednesday night.

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/paul-newberry .

No. 17 Louisville runs away from Florida State, 84-65

Louisville coach Rick Pitino shouts instructions to his team during the first half of its NCAA college basketball game against Florida State, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley
1 Comment

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Quentin Snider scored 20 points, Damion Lee added 14 and No. 17 Louisville had no problem with Florida State in an 84-65 victory on Wednesday night.

Louisville (15-3, 4-1 ACC) was rarely challenged in winning its second straight Atlantic Coast Conference game, shooting 48 percent while outrebounding Florida State 44-36. Chinanu Onuaku had 14 rebounds and 11 points for his fifth straight double-double, all coming in league play.

Freshman guard Donovan Mitchell added 13 points for the Cardinals, including a monstrous one-handed dunk in the first half that charged a crowd of 21,349 in the late-evening game. Leading 22-15 at that point, Louisville never looked back in building a lead that reached 32.

Malik Beasley scored 23 points and Devon Bookert had 18 in his first start of the season for Florida State (12-6, 2-4), which had its two-game winning streak stopped.