Louisville jumped out to a big early lead and barely held on from there as the No. 14 Cardinals used an up-and-down effort to capture an 85-80 ACC home win over Pitt.
It looked like a rout might be on for Louisville in this one as they jumped out to a 47-26 halftime lead and led by double-digits for most of the second half. But the Cardinals offense slowed down in the second frame as a scoreless stretch and some turnovers let the Panthers creep back in the game.
Pitt closed the lead to five points with under a minute left but ultimately fell short as the Panthers had their second consecutive miserable start to a game that ultimately buried them in the end as they attempted to rally.
Louisville (13-3, 2-2) was paced by Quentin Snider, as the junior point guard had a solid outing with 22 points and five assists. Donovan Mitchell and Deng Adel added 15 points each for Louisville while Ray Spalding added 11 points and eight rebounds.
For as great as Louisville looked in the first half, they looked equally as awful in the second half. Against a team like Pitt at home, the Cardinals can get away with a split effort like that, but Louisville is going to need to play a more consistent 40 minutes to beat a lot of the better teams in the ACC.
While Louisville’s second-half struggles are a bit concerning there is some intrigue with how this team played in the first half. The Cardinals looked like a force on both ends of the floor as they mixed and matched a lot of unique lineups and gave Pitt fits.
I particularly liked Louisville’s one small-ball look in which Spalding spent some time at the five because it gives the Cardinals the option to play five long and athletic players that make it tough to advance the ball against. If Spalding can do a good enough job of protecting the rim and rebounding as the five in that lineup that could be a look that Rick Pitino turns to more often.
Louisville has a strong stretch of four games coming up where they get Duke at home on Saturday, Clemson at home next week and then back-to-back road games at Florida State and Pitt. It’ll be be interesting to see how the Cardinals look against Duke on Saturday after their horrible second half, since the Blue Devils are coming off of a loss at Florida State and will likely come out aggressive.
Jamel Artis had a monster night and did everything he could to keep Pitt in this game but the senior didn’t have enough help. Artis finished with 43 points but Michael Young was the only other double-figure scorer for the Panthers with 17 points.
Pitt (12-5, 1-3) is going to need more from guys outside of Artis and Young to beat the upper-echelon teams of the ACC, but that isn’t any sort of new revelation that we didn’t know already.