LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Christen Cunningham scored 17 points with five critical free throws in the final 2½ minutes, and Malik Williams added a pair from the line for 14 points to help No. 23 Louisville outlast No. 21 North Carolina State 84-77 on Thursday night.
Back in the Top 25 for the first time since early last season, the Cardinals (14-5, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) needed scoring from everyone down the stretch to earn their fourth consecutive victory. They succeeded at the foul line, making 24 of 29 and closing the game by sinking 9 of 10 to win a tight game against the Wolfpack 15-4, 3-3).
Ryan McMahon’s two makes with 46 seconds remaining provided a 79-75 lead before Cunningham and Williams each made their two shots for an eight-point edge. Cunningham made 1 of 2 with 11.2 seconds left for the final margin.
Jordan Nwora had 13 points and Dwayne Sutton and Steven Enoch each added 10 to complete Louisville’s balanced effort.
Braxton Beverly scored 19 points, Torin Dorn had 18 and C.J. Bryce 15 for N.C. State, which erased deficits of 10 and six points to tie the game. But Beverly’s two fouls and a turnover in the final minute gave the Cardinals opportunities they converted.
The Wolfpack played a third consecutive game without junior guard Markell Johnson because of a back injury. He traveled with the team, but was in warmups during the game.
N.C. State has a chance to regroup against Clemson to stay ranked. Louisville could rise with another ranked win, but how high depends on beating Pittsburgh.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack finished 12 of 27 from long range and seemed to get one when needed to spark a run and tie the game. They also outrebounded Louisville 38-26, but faltered in the final minutes in losing for the third time in five games. They couldn’t get to the line as well as Louisville, making 5 of 7.
Louisville: After winning their last three by double digits, the Cardinals used the free throw line to win by seven this time. They also scored 37 points off 23 turnovers, which made the biggest difference against the Wolfpack.
North Carolina State: Hosts Clemson on Saturday in the lone season meeting between the schools.
Louisville: Hosts Pittsburgh on Saturday, looking to avenge an 89-86 overtime road loss on Jan. 9.