BOZICH | Virginia beats Louisville with offense (not defense)
Louisville's struggles in John Paul Jones Arena continued as the Cardinals were defeated by Virginia Wednesday night.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WDRB) – Before the University of Louisville played Virginia Wednesday night, I asked several media guys and NBA scouts in the John Paul Jones Arena press room a basic question:
How does Louisville win the game against the second-ranked team in America?
Make shots. Everybody said that.
Don’t make turnovers. Heard a lot of that.
Score at least 60 points. Just one voice on that one.
Another guy just laughed. Twice. With gusto.
I can’t charge anybody with being a wise-guy. That’s simply the kind of admiration that Tony Bennett’s team has stirred this season while surging to first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Virginia will remain in first place until further notice after the Cavaliers defeated Louisville Wednesday night, 74-64.
The Cardinals made shots, but not enough, even though they hit 50 percent. The Cardinals did not make a crushing number of turnovers (13), but they made more than Virginia (7), and the Cavaliers turned those into a 22-6 edge in points off turnovers. Louisville finally scored 60 points for the first time in seven tries against Bennett’s perplexing Pack Line defense.
As well as Louisville shot, Virginia was more proficient -- making 9 of 16 shots from distance.
"When they shoot the ball like that, you're going to have to make more than eight threes to beat them," U of L coach David Padgett said. "Our guys competed for every second of those 40 minutes.
"It is just a game where you literally have to tip your hat to the other team because they made big plays and big shots."
The Cardinals started well, forcing three Virginia turnovers in the first five minutes. If that does not sound like much, remember that the Cavaliers only threw the ball away five times while winning at Duke Saturday.
Despite the defense, Louisville could never manage more than a two-point lead. The Cards led 23-21 with 4:20 left in the first half. Then Virginia’s efficient play took control.
Virginia beat Louisville with offense as much as defense. The Cavaliers made seven of their first 13 shots from distance, pushing to a 50-36 lead over the Cardinals midway through the second half. Getting offense from Raymond Spalding, Deng Adel and Ryan McMahon refused to retreat.
McMahon made a three-pointer, his third of the game, with 3:45 to play to cut a 14-point Virginia lead to 62-57. After a Virginia turnover, Louisville had a chance to make it a one possession game. But Spalding and McMahon missed back-to-back threes while Ty Jerome scored from distance on consecutive possessions for Virginia. They were tough shots. But Jerome is a superb shooter. Ball game.
"Those were impressive shots," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. "Sometimes we got the switch, sometimes we did not.
"But he just needs a little space to shoot and if you come up a little too close, he will get in the lane and make some tough shots. I would like to say that is just great engineering of the offense but that is guys making plays."
Kyle Guy, an Indianapolis kid voted Mr. Basketball in Indiana two years ago, showed why one NBA scout compared him to former Kentucky star Rex Chapman. Guy scored 22, the most he has scored in an ACC game this season.
Louisville was led by Adel, who had 15 and Spalding, who scored 16.
The Cardinals return home to play Florida State at 4 p.m. Saturday in the KFC Yum! Center. Louisville defeated the Seminoles, 73-69 in Tallahassee on Jan. 10. FSU started Wednesday with a 5-4 ACC record, tied for fifth place. The Seminoles played at Wake Forest Wednesday night.
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