Louisville Cardinals

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No. 11 Louisville gets OT win at Pitt

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PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh forward Terrell Brown thought he had a game-tying tip-in with 21 seconds to play, but he was called for a foul on the play.

That allowed for No. 11 Louisville to escape Pitt’s upset bid with a 72-68 overtime victory on Tuesday night.

Pitt guard Trey McGowens’ driving layup attempt bounced off the rim, and Brown put it back, appearing to tie the game, but he was whistled for an over-the-back foul against Louisville’s Malik Williams.

Williams hit both free throws to put Louisville up by two possessions, securing the final margin of victory.

Louisville star junior Jordan Nwora was limited by Pitt’s defense, leading the Cardinals with 14 points, which tied for his second-smallest output of the season.

Dwayne Sutton, who finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, and David Johnson, who scored 11, picked up the slack for Louisville.

Pitt led for over 33 minutes, but never by more than nine points. The entire second half was a back and forth affair, with the Cardinals gradually closing the gap. Louisville tied the game at 61 with under a minute remaining on a Johnson free throw.

McGowens led an unexpected offensive charge from Pitt, which shot 48% from the floor in the first half. He finished 8 of 22 for 24 points. Xavier Johnson added 11 points and five assists.

BIG PICTURE

Louisville: The Cardinals’ pack-line defense is unquestionable one of the team’s strengths. They entered eighth in the country with an opponent field goal percentage of 36.7. The Panthers found gaps and also made 26 trips to the free-throw line. The Cardinals are now 2-2 this season when allowing 20 or more opponent free-throw attempts.

Pitt: The Panthers’ roller-coaster season continues. They hold wins over top opponents like Florida State, North Carolina and Rutgers and have losses to Nicholls State and Wake Forest. After a sloppy loss to Miami on Sunday, Pitt turned around quickly to turn in a solid performance against the No. 11 Cardinals on Tuesday.

UP NEXT

Louisville: Continues a season-long three game road swing with a trip to No. 3 Duke on Saturday.

Pitt: Will host North Carolina on Saturday. The Panthers beat the Tar Heels, 73-65 in North Carolina on Jan. 8.

Late run helps No. 3 Louisville beat Miami Of Ohio 70-46

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LOUISVILLE, Ky.  — Jordan Nwora scored 20 points and No. 3 Louisville pulled away with a 17-0 run to beat Miami of Ohio 70-46 on Wednesday night.

Ryan McMahon added 11 points for Louisville (11-1), and Dwayne Sutton tied a career-high with 15 rebounds.

Mekhi Lairy led the Redhawks (5-6) with 10 points.

While the Cardinals never trailed, it was much closer than the final score indicated. Louisville used a 14-2 first-half run to take a 12-point lead, but the Redhawks cut it to 28-25 on Dalonte Brown’s dunk 1:10 into the second half.

Miami trailed just 44-40 with 9:02 left after Josh Brewer’s 3-pointer. The Cardinals used the 17-0 run over the next 5:17 to finally put away the pesky Redhawks.

The Cardinals won despite shooting just 39.7%, the third time in the last five games they failed to break 40%. Nwora had his eighth 20-point game of the season. He was 7 of 17 from the floor.

BIG PICTURE

Miami of Ohio: Facing their toughest test of the season, the Redhawks tried to slow down the more athletic Cardinals, and for a while it appeared to work. However, shooting a season-worst 27.3%, which included making just 6-of-33 3-pointers, doomed the chances for an upset.

Louisville: Defensively, Louisville looked every bit the dominant team, forcing Miami into taking too many contested and forced jumpers. The Cardinals also enjoyed a 54-40 rebounding advantage. Offensively, though, the Cardinals looked out of sync for first 31 minutes against a smaller foe, as they finished with just 11 assists on 25 baskets. With the competition only getting tougher from here, it could prove problematic for Chris Mack’s team.

UP NEXT

Miami of Ohio: Hosts Bradley on Saturday.

Louisville: At Kentucky on Dec. 28.

Tuesday’s Things to Know: Three of eight unbeaten teams lose, including No. 1 Louisville

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It wasn’t supposed to be a particularly eventful Tuesday night in college basketball. Things changed quickly as three of the eight unbeatens in the sport lost — two of them to unranked teams. Here’s a look at how the Jimmy V Classic, a top-25 clash and a Big Ten upset shook up the sport once again.

Texas Tech knocks off No. 1 Louisville in Madison Square Garden

For the third time in four weeks, the No. 1 team in the country lost to an unranked team on Tuesday night.

This time, it was No. 1 Louisville who fell victim to the Tuesday No. 1 Team Curse. Texas Tech knocked off the Cardinals, 70-57, at the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.

Even without dynamic freshman guard Jah’mius Ramsey, the Red Raiders clamped down on defense, forcing 19 turnovers and limiting Louisville to 39 percent shooting.

CBT’s Rob Dauster was at MSG for this one and he has plenty more. Texas Tech also had an exuberant celebration postgame.

Penn State upsets No. 4 Maryland for Big Ten home win

While No. 1 was losing at the Garden, previously-unbeaten No. 4 Maryland was falling to the Nittany Lions. A sloppy first half and five double-figure scorers for Penn State gave them a 76-69 win over the Terps.

Building up a 10-point halftime lead, the Nittany Lions beat a ranked Maryland team at home for the second straight year. It’s the type of win that can give an unproven Penn State program a major shot in the arm. Maryland, meanwhile, continues to show some concerning signs for a top-10 team.

I examined more on this one here, including Maryland’s propensity for slow starts and silly turnovers.

No. 11 Baylor holds off No. 18 Butler

As if those two games weren’t enough, No. 18 Butler suffered its first loss of the season in Waco. Baylor held off a late push from the Bulldogs to earn a 53-52 non-conference win.

A balanced effort on offense and a strong defensive effort was the difference for the Bears in this one. Baylor made Butler senior guard Kamar Baldwin work all night as he was limited to 16 points on 9-for-24 shooting.

The Bears have quietly earned top-20 home wins over Arizona and Butler over the last few days as they’ve been one of the most impressive teams in the country during non-conference play.

Nwora leads No. 4 Louisville past Indiana State 91-62

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jordan Nwora scored 21 points, Dwayne Sutton added 14 and No. 4 Louisville shot 59% from the field to run past Indiana State 91-62 on Wednesday night.

Two days after moving up a spot in the AP Top 25, the Cardinals (3-0) made 14 of their first 17 shots for a 16-point lead through 11 minutes on the way to a 47-26 advantage at the break. Nwora’s 14 points, including a pair of 3s got Louisville going, and Sutton had 10 before the break.

Nwora, a junior forward, finished 5 of 10 shooting for his third consecutive game of 20 points or more. Sutton and Steven Enoch each grabbed 10 rebounds as Louisville owned the glass 42-21. The Cardinals shot above 50% for the third consecutive game.

Tyreke Key led the Sycamores (0-2) with 20 points including four 3-pointers, two of which came during a 14-2 early second-half run that got them within 51-40. They got no closer as Louisville quickly answered to stretch the lead above 20 as it shot 58% in the final 20 minutes.

Indiana State shot 34% in its only game this season against a Power Five opponent. The Sycamores haven’t beaten a ranked opponent since topping Butler 72-71 in December 2016.

BIG PICTURE

Indiana State: After making two of their first three baskets, the Sycamores were no match physically against Louisville’s taller lineup. Perimeter shooting was a bright spot as they extended their streak to 345 games with at least one 3-pointer.

Louisville: The Cardinals seemingly couldn’t miss at the start and stayed hot throughout. They never let up even after the outcome was settled.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Cardinals took a step toward remaining in the top five with another game to play this week.

UP NEXT

Indiana State faces Ball State on Sunday in Indianapolis.

Louisville hosts North Carolina Central on Sunday in the third of a four-game homestand.

Nwora scores 23 to lead No. 5 Louisville past Miami 87-74

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CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Jordan Nwora went 4 for 6 from beyond the arc, and from above the basket he didn’t miss.

Nwora threw in a dunk — literally — to go with his outside shooting, and totaled 23 points and 12 rebounds Tuesday to help the fifth-ranked Cardinals win their season opener at Miami, 87-74.

The Cardinals are touted as a potential Final Four team, and they lived up to the hype with a rout on the road against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent. Louisville led 72-40 before Miami rallied during garbage time.

Nwora, the preseason ACC player of the year, brought the Louisville bench to its feet when he leaped to make a one-handed catch and dunk in one motion on Ryan McMahon’s alley-oop pass.

“I actually did not think he was going to be able to catch it,” McMahon said. “I thought it was too bad of a pass. Somehow he snatched it out of the air and just threw it in the rim. He’s a freak athlete. It was a real cool play.”

Coach Chris Mack was more reserved in his review of the dunk.

“I don’t rate those things,” Mack said. “I’m just glad he didn’t miss it. I would have made him run sprints.”

The 6-foot-7 Nwora shot 8 for 16 and scored most of his points from the perimeter.

“Every time we left him open, even for a split second, he buried a 3,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said.

McMahon, a Florida native, sank three consecutive 3-pointers as Louisville scored 17 consecutive points during a four-minute span in the first half and never looked back.

McMahon scored 16 points and shot 4 for 7 from beyond the arc.

“He’s an elite-level shooter — as good as anybody in the country,” Mack said.

Freshman Samuell Williamson made his Louisville debut with 13 points and five rebounds in 24 minutes.

“He doesn’t look like a freshman on offense,” Mack said.

Dwayne Sutton contributed 16 points for the Cardinals, who shot 54%.

Chris Lykes had 18 points and DJ Vasiljevic scored 16 for the Hurricanes.

“We need to make progress in all areas,” Larranaga said.

He sent three freshmen into the game early in the first half, and they helped the Hurricanes score eight consecutive points to lead 16-9.

The Cardinals answered with their big run to surge ahead 26-16. A 9-0 run late in the half helped to make it 45-26 at halftime.

“We came out with some jitters, and once we settled down we were a little bit more comfortable,” McMahon said.

BIG PICTURE

The crowd included actor Bill Murray, whose son is a Louisville assistant coach, and 18 NBA scouts from 13 teams. The scouts saw plenty to like from the Cardinals, who return six of the top seven scorers from last season’s NCAA tournament squad.

Defense remains a problem for the Hurricanes, who last season allowed opponents to shoot 45% and average 71 points, the worst numbers in Larranaga’s eight years at Miami.

INJURY REPORT

Louisville junior forward Malik Williams (foot) and freshman guard David Johnson (shoulder) are still recovering from offseason injuries.

Miami’s Keith Stone, a 6-foot-8 graduate transfer from Florida, sat out while he continues to recover from an ACL injury. The Hurricanes hope he can return in January.

DOUBLEHEADER

Cardinals fans made up a large portion of the crowd of 7,576. Louisville will try for a sweep of the Hurricanes when it plays at Miami in football Saturday.

“We did our part,” Mack said.

UP NEXT

Louisville plays its home opener Sunday against Youngstown State in the first meeting between the two schools.

Miami hosts Florida Atlantic on Friday. The Hurricanes are 23-1 in the series, with their lone loss in December 2002.

College basketball’s best frontcourts

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As the NBA game gets smaller and quicker and more spread out, the college game can still be beaten with big guys.

Just two years ago, in between Villanova’s two national titles, was a championship game played between a Gonzaga team built around their big guys and a North Carolina team built around their big guys.

Hell, I think you can make the argument that Kansas center Udoka Azubuike is one of the five most valuable players in college basketball, even if his potential as a pro is limited.

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the best frontcourts in college hoops.



1. KANSAS (Udoka Azubuike, Mitch Lightfoot, Silvio De Sousa, David McCormack, Jalen Wilson, Tristan Enaruna)

The Jayhawks have perhaps the best traditional big men in college hoops in Udoka Azubuike, who shot 77 percent from the floor in his last (and only) healthy season, but it’s unclear just exactly how this frontcourt will work as a whole. Silvio De Sousa is probably the most talented of this group with David McCormack and Mitch Lightfoot the most experienced. None of those three, though, have shown the ability to step out on the perimeter to help create the space that will be critical for Azubuike to operate. Lightfoot is actually largely expected to redshirt. That leaves freshmen Jalen Wilson and Tristan Enaruna, a couple of four-star recruits.

What Bill Self does with this situation could very well determine Kansas’ ceiling. Frankly, it won’t be at all surprising if we see Self try doses of Marcus Garrett, Isaiah Moss and Ochai Agbaji at the four to alleviate the spacing concerns.

2. DUKE (Vernon Carey, Matthew Hurt, Javin DeLaurier, Jack White)

Coach K’s use of his frontcourt last year was one of the more scrutinized tactical decisions, with Zion Williamson, a singular force in the sport, splitting his time between power forward and center, when more time at the five probably would have unlocked a little more firepower for the Blue Devils. That won’t be the case this year with Duke’s roster flipping over, but how its frontcourt performs will go a long way in determining if it can get where last year’s team didn’t – the Final Four.

Vernon Carey and Matthew Hurt are both five-star recruits and potential one-and-done lottery picks as top-15 prospects. The pair should, well, pair well with Carey at the five and Hurt stretching the floor at the four. Javin DeLaurier got a lot of run for the Blue Devils last year, and will help provide experience and depth up front.

3. MEMPHIS (James Wiseman, Precious Achiuwa, Isaiah Maurice, DJ Jeffries, Malcolm Dandridge)

Just how good Penny Hardaway’s frontcourt is will go a long way in determining if the Tigers are as good as their recruiting class. 

It starts with James Wiseman, the 7-foot-1 top-rated freshman and potential top-NBA draft pick come June. If he’s All-American good, then that sets Memphis up for success more than anything else. There’s that pesky ankle injury that’s kept him sidelined in the preseason, which is concerning but not cause for a full panic now.

It’s not the only thing, though. Precious Achiuwa was the other five-star Hardaway collected in his No. 1 recruiting class, which also included Isaiah Maurice, D.J. Jeffries and Malcolm Dandridge.

4. GONZAGA (Killian Tillie, Filip Petrusev, Drew Timme, Pavel Zakharov)

Killian Tillie is one of the more intriguing forwards in the country. People have been raving about his talent for years, but he’s been stuck behind great college players and future pros while also dealing with injuries. He even had knee surgery this offseason that has his immediate availability currently in question. If he’s healthy, the deck has been cleared in Spokane for him to be featured.

Six-foot-11 Filip Petrusev played in 32 games last year for the ‘Zags but wasn’t a huge piece of the rotation. He did have a big summer playing for Serbia at the FIBA U19s, putting up nearly 20 points a game and shooting 66 percent from the floor. He and Tillie could make for a dynamic duo.

Coach Mark Few also has some highly-rated freshmen he can mix in with Drew Timme and Pavel Zakharov, but they did get dinged when Oumar Ballo was forced to redshirt..

5. WASHINGTON (Jaden McDaniels, Isaiah Stewart, Naz Carter, Hamier Wright, Sam Timmins)

Memphis’ recruiting deservedly got a lot of love this summer, but Mike Hopkins got the job done, too. Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels are both top-10 recruits that will immediately make the Huskies’ frontcourt formidable. Both are 6-foot-9, but Stewart weighs in at 245 pounds and McDaniels 185. Nahziah Carter averaged 8.1 points and 2.4 rebounds while Hameir right played nearly 18 minutes per game. Sam Timmins played sparingly, but shot 62 percent.

6. LOUISVILLE (Jordan Nwora, Steve Enoch, Malik Wiliams, Aidan Igiehon, Jaelyn Withers)

The 6-foot-7, 225-pound Nwora blossomed into an All-American candidate last year, averaging 17 points and 7.6 rebounds per game while shooting 37.4 percent from the floor. He’s an ACC player of the year frontrunner, and the cornerstone to both the Cardinals’ frontcourt and their Final Four aspirations.

Steve Enoch was effective both inside and out last season while Malik Williams is a top-level shotblocker. Aidan Igiehon is a four-star, top-75 recruit while Jaelyn Withers is a top-150 prospect from 2019.

(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

7.  MISSISSIPPI STATE (Reggie Perry, Abdul Ado, Elias King, Robert Woodard II, Prince Oduro, KeyShawn Feazell, E.J. Datcher, Quinten Post)

Reggie Perry is a first-team all-SEC pick after he averaged 9.7 points and 7.2 rebounds last season while Abdul Ado is back after shooting 61.4 percent from the floor and blocking 1.8 shots per game last season. Robert Woodard played 17 minutes per game last year while Prince Oduro is eligible after a promising freshman season for Siena.

8. MARYLAND (Jalen Smith, Ricky Lindo, Chol Marial, Makhi and Makhel Mitchell)

Bruno Fernando is gone, but Jalen Smith was nearly as productive as him last season as a freshman. The 6-foot-10 Smith blocked 12.5 percent of opponent shots while on the floor while shooting 56.2 percent from 2-point range. He shot just 26.8 percent from distance, but hoisted 71 attempts, at least an indication he could potentially be a floor-spacer. The Terps are also adding twins Makhi and Makhel Mitchell, the former a top-75 recruit and the later a three-star prospect. Chol Marial is a 7-foot-2 freshman that could contribute if he gets healthy.

9. BAYLOR (Tristan Clark, Mark Vital, Freddie Gillispie, Flo Thamba)

Tristan Clark was on his way to first-team all-Big 12 honors last year before his knee injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season in January. He’s back this year, and he’ll anchor one of the best frontcourts in the country. Mark Vital, Freddie Gillispie and Flo Thamba all were contributors last season, and should be more effective with Clark by their side this season.

10. MICHIGAN STATE (Xavier Tillman, Marcus Bingham, Thomas Kithier, Malik Hall, Joey Hauser*)

Nick Ward and Kenny Goins are gone, but Xavier Tillman returns after a productive sophomore campaign that has him blossom on both ends of the floor, albeit not his 3-point shooting. Marcus Bingham and Thomas Kithier will be in line for more minutes after being seldomly used as freshmen while Malik Hall is a top-75 recruit.

The wildcard here is Joey Hauser. The Marquette transfer has already seen his request for an immediate-eligibility waiver denied by the NCAA, but Michigan State has appealed. If the NCAA reverses course, the Spartans’ frontcourt will suddenly look much more formidable.

11. FLORIDA (Kerry Blackshear, Keyontae Johnson, Gorjok Gak)

The Florida frontcourt got a massive boost when the 6-foot-10 Kerry Blackshear decided to grad-transfer over this past offseason. Blackshear averaged 14.9 points and 7.5 rebounds for the Hokies last season while also shooting 50.8 percent from the field. He’ll join Keyontae Johnson, who put up 8 and 6 last year, and Gorjok Gak, a 6-foot-11 center who missed last season with injury.

12. VIRGINIA (Jay Huff, Mamadi Diakite, Braxton Key)

The national champs lost a lot from last year’s team, but their frontcourt remains somewhat intact, although De’Andre Hunter is a major loss, no doubt. Getting Mamdi Diakite, Braxton Key and Jay Huff all to return is a help, though.

Diakite averaged 7.4 points and 4.4 rebounds in 22 minutes per game while blocking more than 10 percent of opponent shots while he was on the floor. Braxton Key and Jay Huff were smaller contributors last year, but still important ones. They’ll help Tony Bennett bridge the gap to the post-title era.

13. NORTH CAROLINA (Armando Bacot, Garrison Brooks, Justin Pierce, Sterling Manley, Brandon Huffman)

Luke Maye and Cameron Johnson are both gone, but Garrison Brooks is back from his junior season and five-star center Armando Bacot comes into the fold. So, too, is William & Mary graduate transfer Justin Pierce, a third-team all-CAA honoree who averaged 14.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game last season as a junior.

14. UTAH STATE (Neemias Queta, Justin Bean, Diogo Brito, Kuba Karwowski, Roche Grootfaam)

Neemias Queta, a 7-foot sophomore, averaged 11.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game in his rookie campaign while shooting 61.4 percent, putting him among the country’s most productive centers. Justin Bean saw more time late in the season and was productive against MWC competition. Diogo Brito is a floor-spacer when he’s at the four. Kuba Karnowski and Roche Grootfaam are a pair of junior college transfers that could contribute.

15. PURDUE (Matt Haarms, Trevion Williams, Aaron Wheeler, Evan Boudreaux)

Matt Painter and the Boilermakers have made a habit of having one of the nation’s best frontcourts, and that won’t be any different this year. Matt Haarms will anchor the group after the 7-foot-3 center averaged 9.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game while shooting 63.2 percent from the floor. Two freshmen that saw time last year – 6-foot-9 forwards Aaron Wheeler and Trevion Williams – will step into bigger roles up front, too.