By Beau Kilpatrick—
The No. 14 Louisville Cardinals defeated the No. 7 Duke Blue Devils in an impressive performance, winning 78-69.
Louisville is well known for their defense. In fact, Coach Pitino has yet another defensive squad ranked in the top five. The Cardinal defense relentlessly pursued the ball and forced Duke into a season high 18 turnovers. The Blue Devils were forced out of their game plan by the grueling pressure of the Cards, which led to a huge ACC victory for U of L.
The Cardinals’ offense exploded at the most fortunate time against the “Dirty” Devils. Four of Louisville’s starters scored in double-digits. The seven-footer Anas Mahmoud led all scorers in career-high fashion with a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds. He also recorded one block and a steal. Mahmoud has improved drastically from last season. His improvements have been so remarkable that he has taken the starting position from Mangok Mathiang and is second in the country with blocked shots per game.
Louisville native Quentin Snider scored 13 points and created six assists. Snider’s performance has also been getting better with each game as he embraces the role of leader on his team. Ray Spalding shot 75 percent from the field with 11 points and remains to be a defensive monster in the paint.
Check out more stats at: http://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/boxscore?gameId=400915376
Donovan Mitchell had a great game as well, scoring 15 points. Mitchell twisted his ankle early in the second half when he stepped on another player’s foot. He was on his way to the locker room when he changed his mind and returned to the game. Mitchell was on fire after he came back, draining a couple of crucial three-pointers, driving to the basket, and sparking his team with a second wind.
The Cardinals are defensive juggernauts that are finding their rhythm on offense at a critical time, entering ACC play. It is this collective effort and immense intensity that sparked the victory today against the perennial blue-blood Duke. The electricity at the KFC YUM! Center could not have been any greater. The fans were loud and enthusiastic throughout the entirety of the game.
The Blue Devils came into this game under a microscope due to the habitual dirty playing style of Grayson Allen. Allen began an infamous streak of tripping incidents last year, against Louisville, when he tripped Ray Spalding and that was not forgotten. The fans booed Allen every single time that he touched the ball. Allen still played dirty as he usually does, face-palming Donovan Mitchell, getting tripped up with David Levitch on a break-away, and sticking his knee out during a screen play. As a result, Cardinal defenders were a little more physical with Allen than other players. Allen even hooked Mitchell’s arm at one point and they both hit the floor. Luckily, Mitchell was okay and Allen took the brunt of the fall, landing on his nose, and getting a quick slap in the forehead by Mitchell.
The dirty playing style of the Duke Blue Devils was left unrewarded as the scoreboard above them read 78-69 as the clock ticked down to zero.
The Cardinals will host Clemson at the KFC YUM! Center on Thursday, January 19. ESPN will broadcast the game at 9 p.m.
As always, Go CARDS! #L1C4