The last place anyone expected the University of Louisville to knock down 12 of 18 three-point attempts would have been at Cassell Coliseum in southwest Virginia. Couldn’t have happened at a better place, UofL would need almost every one of them to outlast Virginia Tech 91-83.
One of those seasons when one never knows which UofL player is going to take over a game. A different player or combination of players every game. A healthy indicator for any team that wants to be among the serious contenders in March on a team coached by Rick Pitino.
No better time for Damion Lee and Trey Lewis to reassert themselves as the leaders on this team, the two post-graduate scholars conducting a shooting clinic. Most of the three-point baskets seeming to come when Virginia Tech had come within striking distance, the Hokies refusing to roll over time after time. Scratching and clawing their way back in the game down to the final 20 seconds.
So much for Chinanu Onuaku’s six straight double-double games. The Hokies got him in foul trouble early, just as Pitino had predicted they would. Any time a Virginia Tech player got close to Onuaku, the whistles were instantaneous, as if there were some sort of bounty to be collected.
Anas Mahmoud came back down to earth in this game, managing only four points. Give Mahmoud credit, however, for three early blocks that put an end to Virginia Tech’s early dominance. The Hokies raced out to a 20-12 lead before Mahmoud started plugging up the middle. He would have some defensive lapses later, but he helped his team turn a crucial corner.
As well as Damion Lee and Trey Lewis were playing, Louisville also had to have Jaylen Johnson’s best game in a Louisville uniform. Johnson would score 11 points, including one 3-pointer, and he have nine rebounds, three assists and a block. Fortunately, he was able to return to the floor after twisting his elbow backwards near the end of the game.
Damion Lee would hit six of seven three-points attempts and 11 of 12 free throw attempts to lead all scorers with 29 points. Trey Lewis would score 20 of his 22 points, including all four of his three-pointers, in the second half.
With the win, Louisville moves to 6-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Next up is Virginia on Saturday, and North Carolina on Monday. Going to be fun seeing who emerges in those games.