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    Louisville Basketball Scratches Out A Win Over Clemson 58-52
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    Wednesday night the fifth ranked University of Louisville basketball Cardinals (14-1, 2-0), and their fans, stayed warm inside the KFC Yum! Center as the Cards opened their home Atlantic Coast Conference schedule against the Clemson Tigers (8-5, 0-2). It wasn’t pretty, but Louisville ground out a 58-52 victory.

    The Cardinals are coming off a Sunday win against Wake Forest that say Chris Jones record his first career double-double with 22 points and 10 assists. Coach Rick Pitino praised his point guard. Sort of. “He’s gone from never listening in junior college or high school to listening about 70% of the time.”

    Jones became the hero for the second game in a row with his 22 points, 5 steals, 4 rebounds and 2 assists. More importantly in the last moments of the game when Clemson had to foul, the Cards smartly kept putting the ball in his hands. He went 7 for 9 from the free throw line.

    Montrezl Harrell also comes into the game after having a monster first half against Wake that saw him put up 20 points before halftime. That wouldn’t be the case this time because of early foul trouble. Harrell left the game after a little over 5 minutes of play and didn’t return until after halftime.

    Clemson’s marquee player is Jaron Blossomgame. The 6’ 7” forward is the Tigers’s leading scorer and rebounder. He showed the way again for Clemson by finishing the game with 15 points and 9 rebounds.

    Coach Pitino told his young team that this was going to be a grind it out game and he was right. Clemson plays tough defense. After the game he told the press that when he talked to his guys, he told them that the team with the better defense would win.

    In the first half, the team with the better defense was Clemson.

    Both teams shot with the frigidity of the current cold front to open the game. Clemson hit on 30.8% of their attempts while the Cards shot an even worse 22.2% and that includes 2 for 14 (14.3%) from beyond the three point arc. That led to the Tigers going into the locker room with a 22-18 lead.

    After the break ,and the assumed hind-end chewing, the Cardinals came out on fire in the second half. The defense held Clemson scoreless for nearly 7 minutes while stretching their own lead to 13 points.

    It took the Tigers a while to settle down and make a game of it, but the clawed their way back and, while they never regained the lead, they kept fans in their seats instead of sending them away in anticipation of a blow out. Terry Rozier kept everyone entertained as well with his 15 points, 4 assists and 3 steals.

    Louisville has things to work on, particularly on offense. The team consistently misplayed the pick and roll and the Tigers capitalized on that. The Cards also got no scoring help from their bench. Some of it was understandable. Anas Mahmoud couldn’t play because he was suffering with a migraine. Shaqquan Aaron didn’t get many minutes with an injury suffered in practice.

    More troubling was that Chinanu Onuaku, Anton Gill, Quentin Snider, Jaylen Johnson and Aaron all combined to score 2 points. Some of that will need to be shored up and fast.

    The Cards go back into action on Saturday at number 18 North Carolina in another conference matchup before returning to the KFC Yum! Center on Tuesday, January 13th against Virginia Tech.

    Photos by: Tim Girton/Louisville.com

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    About Tim Girton

    Tim Girton writes about University of Louisville sports here at Louisville.com and his love for Louisville continues on his photoblog, called This Is Louisville.

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