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    Louisville Basketball Shellacks Virginia Tech 78-63, Awaits Duke on Saturday
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    It wouldn’t take long to see how the sixth ranked University of Louisville basketball Cardinals (15-2, 3-1) would respond to their second loss of the season. ACC opponent Virginia Tech (8-8, 0-3) got the invitation to the KFC Yum! Center to match up against the Cards. The Cards grabbed the lead early and didn’t relinquish it on the way to a 78-63 win.

    Louisville came into the game after a heartbreaking last second loss to North Carolina in Chapel Hill where they struggled on the boards and off the bench. Coach Rick Pitino had some shoring up to do in both vital areas.

    The Hokies hit Denny Crum court riding a three game losing steak and looking forward to a Sunday match up of their own against North Carolina. They probably don’t consider this the easy part of their schedule.

    Especially difficult was the wake up of the Louisville bench and they got involved early and finishing with 18 points from the reserves. The tongue lashing they surely got sunk in. Mangok Mathiang started in place of Chinanu Onuaku in the middle and poured in 10 points in the first half to go with 5 rebounds. He finished with 11 points and 8 boards.

    Rebounding, a Cardinal Achille’s heel bounced back and they pulled in 40 boards against 33 for the Hokies. The season long problem wasn’t one in this game.

    The Cards shot 54.5% in the first half while holding Virginia Tech to 32.1%. They also dish 10 assist against only 1 turnover. All of those stats, and an early 12-0 run contributed to the 43-24 halftime lead. For the game Louisville shot 47.7% and held the Hokies  to 36.7%.

    Adam Smith, the hot hand for Virginia Tech, put in 19 points and they got another 15 from Justin Bibbs while running a non-traditional 4 guard, 1 forward lineup.

    Pitino acknowledged that the Hokies were overmatched, but he was also proud of how the starters played. And he gave credit to Chris Jones for stepping up and being the leader of the team. For his part, Jones put it 7 points and dished 11 assists.

    Terry Rozier led the way again with 16 points and Wayne Blackshear hit for 15 to go with 6 rebounds. All-American Montrezl Harrell put it 11 points and 8 boards, but had a scary moment near the end of the game when he limped off the court. He was seen to by trainers but the potential injury was not addressed in the post game press conference.

    Good new for Louisville is that they’re home for their next game on Saturday. Not as good, the Duke Blue Devils come to town. “It’s going to be a very tough game,” Pitino said when asked. That game tips at noon.

    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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