CRAWFORD | Cards rebound: Five thoughts on U of L's 78-68 win ov - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Cards rebound: Five thoughts on U of L's 78-68 win over North Carolina

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Rick Pitino got his win over North Carolina — but it wasn't easy. In fact, he and the University of Louisville basketball team had to work overtime for it.

The Cardinals couldn't hit the Ohio River in the first half. They made just 3 of their final 18 first-half shots, and were pounded on the boards, 27-16.

But in the second half, the Cards found their preseason All-American Montrezl Harrell, they found their defense, and they clawed from an 18-point deficit with 17 minutes to play, then ran away from North Carolina with dominant defense in overtime to prevail 78-68 before a white-out crowd of 22,418 in the KFC Yum! Center.

CRAWFORD | Louisville learned some lessons in its comeback win over UNC

U of L held North Carolina without a field goal for the final 6:36 of regulation, got 22 points each from Harrell and Terry Rozier, and 17 from Chris Jones to improve to 18-3 on the season and end North Carolina's six-game winning streak.

"Their defense was stronger than our offense, their will was stronger than our will," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said.

1. FIRST THINGS FIRST. That Harrell alley-oop. Goodness. Google it.

2. IT'S NOT THE RIMS. Louisville made just 3 of its last 18 shots in the first half. Some of those misses were maddening bad luck. More often, they weren't the best looks, certainly not the quality of shots they were getting against Pittsburgh and Boston College. But those two teams aren't North Carolina. Rozier and Jones were bothered by just ever-so-slight contact on drives to the basket and missed shots they've been making. And when no one else could get going, it made for an ugly, ugly half. After Saturday's first half, the Cards were 31.7 percent (38 of 120) in their four prior halves at the KFC Yum! Center. That's really bad. But let's not forget, three of those halves were against Duke and North Carolina. And in the second half, the Cardinals battled through their poor shooting. They wound up shooting 33.8 percent for the game.

3. HARRELL GOT GOING AGAIN. Montrezl Harrell looked more like his old self in the second half Saturday, and not just because he was dunking like crazy. Harrell was more active defensively and rebounding the ball. He had taken over the game, then mysteriously, Louisville stopped looking to him in the final minutes, though he did have the potential game winner in regulation — a wide-open three-pointer from the top of the key that missed at the buzzer.

4. FREE THROWS MATTER. The Cardinals have been pretty good from the line in ACC play. But they were horrendous in the first half until starting to knock some down in the second. They had a chance to take a lead in the second, with just under four minutes left, but Harrell had one rim out with the game tied at 59-59. For the game, U of L missed 17 free throws. It could've been very costly, but on this day, it wasn't. They finished 27-44 from the line. It helps, of course, if you shoot them. UNC went 11-20 from the line.

5. REBOUNDS MATTER. After being dominated on the glass in the first half, something got into the Cards in the second. They didn't allow a single offensive rebound to UNC — one of the top offensive rebounding teams in the nation — until late in the second half, and did not allow a single second-chance point in the second half or overtime. This more than anything is the reason U of L won the game. The Cards wound up with a 46-44 rebounding advantage.

READ MORE ABOUT THE GAME IN ERIC CRAWFORD'S COLUMN, COMING IN JUST A BIT AT WDRB.COM

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