CRAWFORD | Cruise control: Louisville rolls to another rout at Boston College, 90-67
The good times kept rolling for Louisville, which put four players in double-figures to score a blowout win for the fourth time in five Atlantic Coast Conference games.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Nobody is going to confuse the Conte Forum, where Boston College plays its home games, with Cameron Indoor Stadium or any other hallowed road environment in college basketball.
But aside from a 17-point win there by Virginia, nobody had come in and not been in a ballgame. North Carolina battled with BC before winning by eight. Though the Eagles have lost seven in a row and nine of ten, they’re known as a team that will play you tough. They lost by 11 at Duke, by one at Miami, by six at Virginia Tech.
On Saturday, the No. 6-ranked University of Louisville basketball team arrived, figuring at some point to come down from the run of routs it has been on.
Didn’t happen. The Cards, for the fourth time in five games, won by more than 20, using stifling first-half defense and solid offense throughout to beat the Eagles 90-67, their second-worst home loss of the past five seasons.
Louisville’s past four ACC wins — granted, against lower-half teams in the conference, have come by an average margin of 33.8 points.
By the time they left the arena, Baylor and Kansas both had lost at home, Louisville was sitting at No. 3 in the RPI and No. 4 in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, and things looked pretty heady for a team playing without its top two point guards.
Lest they become complacent, the run of blowouts figures to stop Monday night when the Cardinals visit Virginia, which has won four of the past five meetings between the schools. But for one more afternoon in Boston, the good times kept rolling for the Cardinals, who scored on all but 12 of their second-half possessions and shot 63.3 percent in the half to improve to 19-4, 7-3 in the ACC, tied for second in the league with Florida State and Virginia, just one game in the loss column ahead of Syracuse, Notre Dame and Duke.
Now is no time to start looking around. But Cardinals’ coach Rick Pitino said he appreciates the position this team has put itself in. Every game left is against a team ranked No. 55 or higher in Pomeroy’s index.
“We played awesome offense the entire game,” Pitino told Bob Valvano on his Coaches’ Corner postgame radio show presented by Tom Drexler. “We’re pushing the pace of the game. We’re playing great team basketball. Just really, really pleased with the guys. They’re a great group of guys to coach. They’re doing a lot of great things on offense, sharing the basketball, creating a lot of good motion. Every time we win on the road, I say . . . ‘Guys that’s great, we got our first road win.’”
The players now laugh, because they know it isn’t the first. But each one is important.
The Cardinals jumped out to a 10-0 lead on the Eagles, but some uncharacteristic turnovers helped keep the home team close. The Cards turned it over eight times in the first half, but just once in the second. They’ve been averaging only 10 turnovers a game since point guard Quentin Snider went out of the lineup with a hip injury.
David Levitch went just 1-for-7 from the field, but he was the only Louisville player who scored not to shoot 50 percent or better.
“David, in the first half, was trying to play horse,” Pitino told Valvano. “What I told him (at halftime) was, ‘David, you won horse. Because the other guys were knocked out because you took four of the most ridiculous shots I’ve ever seen, and they can’t duplicate those, so you won the game.’ And then Ryan (McMahon) got beat back-door, ran into a screen, he just has to get more physical on the defensive end..”
Still, Pitino said, he sent him back out because of his defense and passing, and Levitch contributed in the second half.
Donovan Mitchell got a lot of attention from the defense, so he looked for others after a flurry of early points. After missing his first shot, he hit 7 of 9 in the game and finished with a team-high 19 points, matching the total of Deng Adel, who made 7 of 10 from the field.
The Cards also got 16 points on 7 of 11 shooting by Mangok Mathiang, who added four rebounds.
Louisville used a 27-9 run after the first media timeout of the second half to push its lead to 28, then coasted.
The Cards got 11 points from V.J. King, nine from Jaylen Johnson and eight from Mahmoud.
“That high-post pass, when the other options aren’t open, we’ve been really working hard on the shot-faking to the one-on-one move, Mangok did a nice job with it, and the rip from the one-on-one moves, and they’re getting better at it,” Pitino said. “. . . I think Mangok’s playing really well. He’s under control, he’s not traveling, he’s doing a lot of really good things. More than anything else now, we need to get healthy.”
Pitino said it’s “possible, not probable” that Snider could return for next weekend’s home game against Miami. But in the meantime, he likes the way his team is playing.
“When we decided to start passing the basketball, that’s when we really started shooting it well,” Pitino told Valvano. “We shot 57.6 today. I’ve been pleading with them to pass the basketball, and once they did that, then our offense got much better.”
Pitino said he’s not concerned with his team becoming complacent or letting their run of routs go to their heads.
“Very unusual thing, the past two years,” he said. “And I always give Damion Lee and Trey Lewis the credit, because they made these guys focused people.”
The Cards were to stay in Boston before heading to Charlottesville, Va., Sunday to face Virginia Monday night in an ESPN telecast.
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