The 11th ranked Louisville Cardinals held on for a 79-73 win over 3rd ranked Duke. Louisville improved to 15-3 on the season and 6-1 in the ACC. Duke has lost two straight and now sits at 15-3 and 5-2.
Freshman point guard David Johnson broke out for 19 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals. Dwayne Sutton had 15 points and 5 rebounds. Malik Williams added 12 points and 7 rebounds of his own. Leading scorer Jordan Nwora was held to just 6 points and 8 rebounds.
For Duke, Cassius Stanley led the way with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Matthew Hurt had 16 points and 2 boards. Vernon Carey had 12 points and 6 rebounds. Tre Jones added 12 points and 7 assists.
Duke held an early lead of 5-2, and that was its only lead of the game. Louisville went on a 12-0 run in the first half to make it 19-6 before the second media timeout. Duke got it back to 28-23 later on in the half, but Louisville pulled out to a 42-32 lead at the break. David Johnson was the guy in the first 20 minutes. He scored 19 points with 7 assists for the Cards. Louisville forced 10 turnovers in the first 12 minutes of the game and really thrived in transition with Johnson at the point.
After the break, Duke scored six straight to make it 42-38. Louisville got it back out to 49-42 within a couple minutes, and they would continue to take punches like that throughout the half. Duke managed to tie it multiple times, but the Cards never gave up the lead in the second half on their way to the win.
The story from this game was the play of David Johnson. Chris Mack inserted him into the lineup after the first timeout and he took over the game from there. With so much being made about Louisville’s point guard play in big games this season, Johnson seemingly answered those questions. Jordan Nwora struggled again on the big stage. He was off the floor in the first half because of foul trouble, but in the second half he failed to get going except for a couple big buckets in transition.
The collapse against Duke has been talked about for nearly a year now. Louisville had plenty of opportunities to give away its lead on Saturday and every time they responded with big possessions. This team still has its flaws, but this was arguably the most complete two way performance that you’ve seen this year from them. Duke was widely regarded analytically as the best team in the country before this week. Louisville shut down Vernon Carey down low and forced Duke to beat them from three. All in all, there is lots to be excited about after watching this performance.
David Johnson, however, left the game with about five minutes left and did not return. He seemed to have injured the shoulder that kept him out for a few months through the start of the season. He came back out of the locker room, but as of now we do not know the extent of the injury. Its apparent how important he can be to this team. If he is healthy, the ceiling for Louisville just got confirmed. If he is injured, it would be a huge blow to this team who seems to just now be finding its groove. At this point, all you can do is hope for the best.
Louisville heads back home for a Wednesday night matchup with Georgia Tech at 7:00 p.m