LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The two hottest offenses in the Atlantic Coast Conference didn’t disappoint in the KFC Yum! Center Thursday night, but the No. 23-ranked University of Louisville found just a bit more firepower in the end, using some big plays by Ryan McMahon late to hold off No. 21 North Carolina State 84-77 for its fourth straight victory.
The win was U of L’s second over a ranked team at home this season, and improved the Cards to 14-5, 5-1 in the ACC.
With Louisville leading 77-75 with just 46.4 seconds left, McMahon drew a charge from a driving Braxton Beverley, then was fouled on the inbounds and made both free throws to put Louisville up 79-75 with 46 seconds to play.
N.C. State, which was hot from three-point range all night, making 12 of 26 to that point, turned the ball over before it could get off a shot with 38 seconds left, and that was it. Louisville made free throws to improve to 5-1 in the ACC for the fourth time in six seasons.
On a night when leading scorer Jordan Nwora struggled from the field, Louisville got 17 points from point guard Christen Cunningham, 14 from Malik Williams, 13 from Nwora and 10 each from Dwayne Sutton and Steven Enoch.
U of L used a season-high 32 points off turnovers, taking advantage of the absence of N.C. State point guard Markell Johnson, who was out because of injury.
Louisville was hot from three-point range from the start. Deep balls from Dwayne Sutton, Steven Enoch, Malik Williams and Ryan McMahon helped the Cardinals sprint to a 20-10 lead after nine minutes. But when the three-pointers stopped falling, the Cards struggled.
N.C. State soon roared back with a 12-2 run of its own, behind a trio of three-point baskets, to claim a three-point lead with seven minutes to play in the half. Just over three minutes later, that lead was six, when Louisville put together a quick 8-0 run, behind four points from Enoch.
The Cards led 42-41 at the half, but with Sutton limited to just eight minutes because of foul trouble, were outrebounded 20-10 in the period, and N.C. State shot 55.2 percent in the period, including 5-10 from three-point range. Louisville offset that by forcing the Wolfpack into 14 turnovers, and holding a 21-8 edge in points off turnovers against a team that thrives on opponent miscues.
Louisville opened the second half with a 10-3 run and after five straight points by Khwan Fore on a layup and a three-pointer, held a 61-51 lead with 11:41 left.
But N.C. State wasn’t finished. The Wolfpack scored 10 straight, as Louisville went cold and struggled with turnovers.
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