Louisville head coach Rick Pitino calls a play during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Virginia, Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015, in Charlottesville, Va. (AP Photo/Andrew Shurtleff)
Andrew Shurtleff
February 07, 2015

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino spent three days prepping his Louisville team to beat No. 3 Virginia.

He even had a plan for how the ninth-ranked Cardinals could score against the nation's stingiest defense. He will surely use the second half of Saturday's game to make a point to his young team.

After pulling even at 13 in the first half, the Cardinals went more than 12 minutes without a point, then started listening to their coach and almost came all the way back in the 52-47 loss.

''Our offense learned that when we get to the end of our offense, we get high percentage shots,'' forward Montrezl Harrell said after scoring 12 points and grabbing six rebounds. ''In the first half we were doing a lot of one-on-one plays and that's why we weren't shooting the ball well.

''Once we started running our offense, we were able to shoot more high percentage shots,'' he said.

Pitino chalked it up to a teaching moment.

''We learned a valuable lesson tonight about being able to execute a game plan,'' he said.

He also learned that Virginia can be really good when it listens to what its coach, Tony Bennett, preaches about defense.

''I love their team. I love what they do, but we fed right into the monster,'' Pitino said.

Malcolm Brogdon scored 15 points, despite 3 for 13 shooting, to lead the Cavaliers, and Anthony Gill added 10 points and eight rebounds. Darion Atkins and Mike Tobey each added nine points.

The Cavaliers (21-1, 9-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) held the Cardinals without a point for the last 10:32 of the first half in taking a 24-13 lead into intermission. Virginia played the second half without injured scoring leader Justin Anderson and missed him as the Cardinals rallied to within three.

Terry Rozier scored 16 points and Montrezl Harrell 12 for the Cardinals (19-4, 7-3), who had a four-game winning streak snapped. Louisville got within 50-47 on Chris Jones' basket with 18 seconds left, but Brogdon converted two free throws at the other end and the Cardinals' run came up just short.

The teams will play again to close the regular season at Louisville.

Louisville's scoreless streak stretched to 12 minutes spanning the halves before Jones' foul-line jumper 1:35 into the second sparked a 6-2 burst that pulled them within 26-19. But Virginia scored the next six points, pushing its lead to 13, and remained comfortably ahead until the closing minutes.

After Brogdon's 3-pointer made it 45-35 with 4:40 left, Rozier scored six points and Harrell had two in an 8-2 run that made it 47-43 with 1:23 left.

With tension mounting for Virginia, Darion Atkins scored on a hook shot in the lane with 1:04 left. After Harrell scored for the Cardinals, Brogdon made one of two free throws, pushing Virginia's lead back to five and the Cardinals ran out of time.

The Cavaliers played the second half without Anderson, their top scorer and a defensive stopper, after he emerged from the locker room with his left hand wrapped. There was no word on what was wrong.


Louisville: The Cardinals had four field goals in 21 attempts and six turnovers in the first half. Only three Cardinals scored in the half. Wayne Blackshear became the fourth to score when he had eight points in the second half.

Virginia: The Cavaliers have held an opponent scoreless for at least 5 minutes 20 times this season.


Virginia's Mike Tobey scored nine points, all in the first 7:26. He played just 13 minutes and was whistled for four fouls.


On one possession, the Cavaliers were particularly smothering. The 35-second clock wound down, the crowd rose and offered deafening encouragement as Louisville looked for a shot. When Wayne Blackshear finally saw an opening, drove and put up a shot, Isaiah Wilkins skied and slapped it away to near delirium.


Louisville: Home against Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.

Virginia: Visits North Carolina State on Wednesday night.


Follow Hank on twitter at: http://twitter.com/hankkurzjr

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