Before Sunday’s game, Louisville was 5-0 and had not been in real danger of losing its first game. They had trailed at times, but the games were never really close once it got down to the final few minutes. Against Akron, Louisville led by as much as 22 in the second half before the Zips nearly erased the deficit, trimming it to 4 points. Ultimately, the Zips ran out of time as the Cards hung on for an 82-76 win.
After a fairly even first 10 minutes, Louisville went on a run and entered halftime up 47-31. Jordan Nwora had 15 first half points and the team connected on 7 of 14 three point attempts. The Cards appeared to be in control headed into the break.
Louisville extended its lead to 22 points early on in the second half. Akron went on an 18-6 run from there to make it a 10 point game with 12 minutes to play, but Louisville withstood the pressure and held a comfortable 10-15 point lead until about five minutes remained in the game. A 12-2 run saw Akron cut it to 78-74 late, but Louisville made its free throws and survived against a good Akron team.
Jordan Nwora finished with 18 points and 8 rebounds for Louisville. Steven Enoch added 17 points and 5 rebounds. Dwayne Sutton recorded a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
For Akron, the backcourt duo of Loren Cristian Jackson and Tyler Cheese each scored 14 second half points before finishing as leading scorers with 20. Channel Banks added 18 points of his own.
Louisville held a lead throughout most of this one, but they allowed Akron to hang around and it almost cost them. It seemed like there were plenty of opportunities for the Cards to run away with it, but Akron managed to keep it around 10-15 points before going on the run late to make it closer. Louisville looked quite disinterested on defense in the last few minutes. It was an up tempo game and Akron just looked like the more enthusiastic team as it nearly came back and won the game.
Still, there are some positives that can be taken away from the win. Freshman David Johnson came into the game in the first half and played a big role in extending the lead. He finished with 9 points in 8 minutes of action. As he gets more time to find his place on this team, Johnson appears likely to have a chance to join fellow freshman Samuell Williamson as a real solid contributor to this team.
Louisville sits at 6-0 headed into a tough stretch over the next few weeks. The Cards play Western Kentucky (11/29), Michigan (12/3), Pittsburgh(12/6), and Texas Tech (12/10) in their next four games. Those are four teams that are more than capable of beating this Louisville team on any given night. The Cards have looked impressive so far this year, but this collection of players has yet to prove that they can close out a game convincingly against a good team.
The easier portion of the schedule is finished. Now, its time for the litmus test.
Up Next: Louisville heads to Nashville for a holiday weekend matchup with Western Kentucky on Friday at 5:00 p.m. EST.
Check out what Coach Chris Mack and redshirt senior Ryan McMahon had to say about the game in their postgame pressers.