BOZICH | 502 Guys rally Louisville past Virginia Tech, 75-68
Louisville needed a win to bolster the team's NCAA Tournament credentials at Virginia Tech Saturday -- and got it with Dwayne Sutton, Quentin Snider and Ray Spalding scoring 51 points.
BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDRB) – Consider this an ode to the days of Unseld, King and Holden. Or Griffith, Wilson and Cox. Or Wheat, Morton and Osborne.
Pick your favorite Louisville team. Pick your favorite homegrown players.
David Padgett put more Louisville in the University of Louisville basketball team Saturday.
For the first time this season, Padgett started three former Louisville high school players. He added Dwayne Sutton (Manual) to the mix with Quentin Snider (Ballard) and Raymond Spalding (Trinity).
Save all tickets. The 502 Guys lineup was a winner.
The Cards got 51 points from the 502 trio and defeated Virginia Tech, 75-68, in Cassell Coliseum to end a two-game losing streak and energize Louisville’s credentials to make the NCAA Tournament. The Cards improved to 19-10 overall, 9-7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. They gained two spots (from 35 to 33) in Ken Pomeroy's power formula.
Credit Snider with 22 points on a career-best seven field goals from distance. He also earned six assists. Give Sutton a career-best 17, including three three-pointers. Make it a double-double for Sutton because he also grabbed 11 rebounds. Spalding contributed a dozen points, seven boards and a block.
"It’s a big thing to have, me, Ray and Q, from the city," Sutton said. "I think it’s important for us to go out there and just win for each other, our teammates and our friends back home.
"When we got out there just to see three Louisville guys to represent our city and our fans. Just play for the name on the front and the name on the back will prosper."
"It was a good team win," Spalding said. "Everybody played well.
"Dwayne played great. He’s capable of a lot more than he showed tonight and I’m happy he had his career high."
For the record, it was the first time Louisville started three Louisville high school players since March 24, 1994 when Denny Crum started Dwayne Morton, Dejuan Wheat and Jason Osborne.
Padgett made the change to Sutton Thursday while the Cardinals remained in Durham after their 26-point defeat against Duke. Assistant coach Trent Johnson had pushed for more playing time for Sutton, who has averaged about 13 minutes and nearly four points as a reserve.
"We just looked at the film the last time we played (Virginia Tech) and we knew we got hurt playing two bigs at the same time because of their quickness," Padgett said.
"Dwayne is probably the best athlete on the team, or one of the best, and he’s probably our best defender … He rebounds. He’s a very tough kid. He does the dirty work.
"He probably hasn’t been playing as much as he had hoped. Looking back on it, Trent Johnson was right. I probably should have been playing him a lot more a lot sooner. He stayed ready. He came into the game. He did what he does every day in practice. He rebounds. He defends. He gives us some toughness. He obviously made some huge threes down the stretch."
Sutton was not certain that he would start until Padgett confirmed n the locker room before the game. He said that prior to the game he did not tell anybody, including his mother.
"I tried to keep it low key," Sutton said. "I told her to watch and see what happens."
What happened was that Snider, Sutton and Spalding scored Louisville’s first eight points. But the Cards could never build their lead to more than three points. They trailed by as many as 10. They were in position to lead at halftime, but missed a shot early in the shot clock and let the Hokies have the final basket of the half for a 34-34 tie.
Snider played his best 20 minutes of the season in the first half. He found a comfortable gap on the left wing of the Hokies’ defense and made three after three after three.
The final first-half count was five baskets from distance for Snider. Never before had Snider made more than four three-pointers in a game for the Cards.
The second half was more back and forth. Louisville scored the first four points. Tech coach Buzz Williams roared off the bench, demanding a timeout. The Hokies went ahead, 41-40.
There was several dead zone sequences for Louisville in the final 20 minutes but this one was guaranteed to annoy Padgett. The Cards had the ball and a five-point lead. Instead of going up seven, they were quickly behind by one. Bad shot, followed by Virginia Tech three, followed by Louisville turnover, followed by Hokies’ basket.
With 8 1/2 minutes to play, Louisville trailed 55-50. The next six minutes were remarkable. Louisville made six consecutive three-point shots -- two each by Sutton, Snider and freshman Darius Perry. Virginia Tech missed seven straight from distance. The sixth in that stretch was delivered by Perry and pushed the Cards ahead, 68-61.
The Cards finished with gusto, making five of their final six shots. They earned assists on 19 of 24 field goal attempts, a ratio that would have Padgett turning flips if it continued the rest of the season. The seven three-pointers were the most for Snider since he made 11 in a game at Ballard.
"I thought in the first half I was hot," Snider said. "In the second half it just felt like I was back in my high school days at Ballard. I just kept shooting. Coach told me to keep shooting. He said don’t pass up any open shots. I missed my first two. He just told me to keep shooting the ball and try to find your rhythm."
You know what’s next for Louisville. Everybody has been discussing it for weeks.
Senior Night with top-ranked Virginia Thursday – and the Cavaliers will have the league title clinched outright by then. Then a Saturday visit to surging North Carolina State, which is coached by Kevin Keatts, the former Rick Pitino assistant at U of L.
"That was a much needed win for a lot of reasons," Padgett said. "Not only because we had a tough week with some things off the court but just because we needed a win. Against a great team on the road."
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