Before Wednesday’s game, USC Upstate was not seen as a threat to end 2nd ranked Louisville’s unbeaten streak. Upstate, who has yet to beat a Division-1 program this season, were 37 point underdogs at tipoff. The Spartans led nearly midway through the second half before succumbing to Louisville in a 76-50 win for the Cardinals.
Upstate led 8-4 early on, but Louisville went on a 17-2 run after the first media timeout and led by double digits. The Spartans hung around, getting the lead to just 6 at halftime. Jordan Nwora had 17 first half points and really carried Louisville in a rather poor first half. Louisville shot 48 percent from the field and 4-12 from three, but it settled for lots of jump shots and did not get much around the rim while only drawing 4 fouls.
Jordan Nwora finished the game with 28 points, 9 rebounds and 1 assist. Ryan McMahon added 15 points on 5-8 shooting from three. Dwayne Sutton had 9 points, 4 assists and a game-leading 15 rebounds. That was his highest rebound total since he joined Louisville; he brought down 18 boards as a freshman at UNC Asheville in the Big South Tournament championship game.
For USC Upstate, Bryson Mozone was the team’s only double-digit scorer with 14 points on 5-10 shooting. The Spartans shot 32.7 percent from the field as a team and connected on 9 of 24 three-point attempts.
After the break, USC Upstate did not slow down. They climbed all the way back and led 43-40 more than six minutes into the second half. Louisville promptly responded with a 18-3 run over the next six minutes and stretched the lead to double digits for good. The Cardinals finished the game on a 36-7 run.
Louisville was not very aggressive on the offensive end against a smaller team. They settled for jump shots and only hit 4 of 12 three-point attempts in the first half. The Cards went 5-9 from deep in the second half and that was a big part of extending the lead.
Postgame, Coach Chris Mack said his team played “like we thought this was supposed to be an easier game.” He said that Upstate was hitting some tough shots and it affected Louisville until late.
I said before tonight that there was not much that we could learn from a game like this one against USC Upstate. I still think that’s probably true, but it was nice to see a great response after trailing well into the second half. You should not have been losing to this team under any circumstances, but they were, and the Cards woke up in time to finish the job.
It looked a lot like a game from last season. There wasn’t a ton of movement off the ball offensively, and Jordan Nwora single handedly carried the offense for much of the first half and beyond. We know by now that Nwora is going to get his. He’s now up to 22.0 points per game on the season and has scored at least 20 in all but one game. McMahon has been deadly from three-point range; he’s now 18-30 on the year. It will take more than that though if this team wants to compete for a championship.
Dwayne Sutton did not have it offensively for most of the night, but he contributed 15 rebounds. That guy always looks like the hardest working man on the court regardless of the score. Speaking of Sutton postgame, Mack described him as a “warrior,” and that “we need more guys like him on this team.”
There was not as much time to get the freshman into the game like we thought beforehand. That being said, both Malik Williams and freshman David Johnson returned from injury and made their season debuts. Williams played 5 minutes, scoring 3 points and grabbing 3 rebounds. David Johnson played 3 second half minutes, scoring 4 points on two dunks, including a designed alley-oop for his first points as a Cardinal.
— ACC Network (@accnetwork) November 21, 2019
This was a team that Louisville should have beaten convincingly. The margin of victory is deceiving, but its a win nonetheless. Against better teams you have to come out ready to play every night, or else a performance like this will lead to losses more often than not. All things considered, I’ll give them a break tonight since they have yet to be truly tested by a good team all season. The have a chance to come out on Sunday and right the ship against an Akron team that is much better compared to the previous non-conference opponents, and also dismantled USC Upstate by 31 last week.
Up Next: Louisville remains home for a Sunday night matchup with Akron at 6:00 p.m. EST at the KFC Yum! Center.