CRAWFORD | Levitch, Adel key decisive run in Louisville's 67-60 win over Pitt
David Levitch hit two late threes and Deng Adel continued his late-season emergence as Louisville beat Pitt 67-60 to hang onto a share of second-place in the ACC.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Hands up if you expected to see this lineup on the court at the end of the first of a big ACC road showdown at Pittsburgh in the stretch of conference play:
David Levitch, Jay Henderson, Matz Stockman, Damion Lee and Quentin Snider.
I’m pretty sure I saw that lineup in the pool playing volleyball in Puerto Rico in the preseason. But at Pitt?
“That lineup with Jay Henderson at the four spot,” Rick Pitino said after the game, before he started laughing.
But that lineup was no joke. It put together a 7-0 run to give Louisville the halftime lead, then Levitch came back to make two big threes in the second half as the Cardinals beat Pitt 67-60.
It was the best road win of the season for Louisville, and its eighth straight over Pittsburgh. And it came without another key player — freshman Ray Spalding, who was sidelined with a groin injury that Pitino said he got “horsing around” with teammates.
Pitino might've chuckled about some of his lineups, but he was serious when he talked about how proud he is of this team, which keeps getting better despite losing its postseason to a school decision in reaction to NCAA violations.
“I’ve been coaching 41 years and I don’t know if I’ve ever been as proud of a basketball team as I am this basketball team,” Pitino said. “We have three front-court players out. We’re playing two walk-ons for 4-5 minutes in the first half and they didn’t lose anything but get the lead. I can’t be — you just feel like a proud father. I can’t be any prouder of a basketball team, and I told them that.”
There was a lot to be proud of. Freshman Deng Adel backed up his break-out game against Duke with another big effort at Pitt — scoring 12 points while grabbing seven rebounds and providing a highlight-reel dunk.
Chinanu Onuaku had 10 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists — and a couple of highlight-reel dunks.
Quentin Snider led the Cards with 14 points and added seven assists. Damion Lee had 13 points.
Lee kicked off the Cards’ final run with a three-point basket with 8:35 left in the game. They would not miss another shot, making their final nine shots to turn what had been a back-and-forth game into a relatively comfortable win.
Levitch got credit for that from Pitino because he got the ball moving. He also made some big defensive plays.
“David Levitch gave us an incredible lift,” Pitino said. “The passing was beautiful. We were just really undermanned tonight, and they played beautiful basketball. I’ve coached a lot of Final Four teams and some championship teams, but I haven’t been any prouder of a team than I am of this one.”
They shot 50.9 percent for the game and 52.2 percent in the second half, when they made 6 of 8 from three-point range.
With just three games left in its season, Pitino has his team loose, and he’s rolling the dice with it a bit, too. He called a play for a Levitch three from the corner late, and Onuaku delivered the ball perfectly.
“It’s easy to make jump shots and score points, but when the game’s on the line, it’s not easy,” Pitino said. “That’s what’s so impressive about Levitch. He has no fear of any situation.”
The Cards were to leave Pittsburgh to go straight to Miami, where they will face a talented Miami team on Saturday in a matchup of teams tied for second in the ACC. The crew for their charter flight, however, was late arriving to the plane after Wednesday night’s game.
It has been a season of turbulence for the Cardinals. But with three games left, this banged-up team that was unranked entering the season still is playing for a conference title, with some pretty lofty names sitting below it in the ACC standings.
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