No. 14 Louisville’s first-half defense enough to down No. 15 Purdue

AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley
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Louisville’s first-half defense was enough to carry it past some late shaky play.

The 14th-ranked Cardinals defeated No. 15 Purdue, 71-64, in a game that featured dominating first-half defense from Louisville and some tense moments as it tried to close out the victory.

Louisville led by 18 points in the second half, but the Boilermakers cut it to four in the final minute to make Rick Pitino’s group work for the victory rather than cruise to one.

In the first half, Louisville lived up to its No. 2 KenPom defensive ranking, absolutely swarming Purdue and making life difficult on every single possession for the Boilermakers, who didn’t get into double-figure scoring until over 14 minutes had elapsed in the game.

Vincent Edwards, Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas, Purdue’s three leading scorers who averaged a combined 47.5 points per game, combined to score one point in the first half. They went 0 for 12 from the floor. One point. Zero made shots. From the team’s three best offensive players.

That’s simply domination for Louisville, which also forced 10 turnovers while allowing just seven made shots (Purdue shot 25 percent) in the first half.

In the second, the Cardinals weren’t able to control things quite as well.

Purdue shot a respectable 48 percent from the floor, got 21 points from Haas and Swanigan, hit 6 of 11 3-pointers and got to the line for 20 free throws, making 15 of them.

Late turnovers also stopped Louisville from claiming a drama-free victory as a pair over 30 seconds with 2 minutes to play allowed Purdue to turn a nine-point deficit to just four quickly.

Still, that first half was a perfect example of how devastating the Cardinals’ defense can be, which gives them plenty of margin for error on the other end most nights, even against a top-15 opponent.