Defense dominates Wolverines

samdraut

A dominant defensive effort defined Louisville men’s basketball’s victory over Michigan.

The top-ranked Cardinals had their best defensive performance of the season, limiting fourth-ranked Michigan to 25.9 percent shooting from the field in Louisville’s 58-43 victory. Michigan’s 43 points is a season-low for an opponent this season for Louisville.

The Wolverines missed 3 of their first 25 shots and ended the night with 10 turnovers.

“It was a grinder of a game,” Louisville coach Chris Mack said. “I think the story of the game was our defensive effort from the beginning of the game, all the way through.”

Mack thought Louisville’s defensive performance started with guarding Wolverine point guard Zavier Simpson. The 6-foot senior went 4 of 11 from the field, scoring nine points while finishing with three assists and four turnovers.

With Simpson limited, Michigan didn’t create as many good looks.

“The deeper he gets in the lane, the more he puts your off-ball defenders in a bind,” Mack said. “All we talked about was keeping him out of the lane, and then hard closeouts.”

Mack said his defense grew up tonight. After struggling against Akron Nov. 24, the Cardinals showed plenty of growth against Michigan.

Centers Steven Enoch and Malik Williams and point guards Darius Perry and Lamarr Kimble dealt with the toughest task of defending Michigan’s constant ball screens. Simpson used screens from Wolverine center Jon Teske and forwards to open driving lanes.

Mack equated guarding Simpson to a quarterback and pass rush. Simpson likes to use screens to get defenders in bad positions.

“If there’s not a lot of pressure on the ball handler in those screening actions, you have to be disruptive,” Mack said. “We have to use our size, both with the five on the defensive point guard so that you can zone up with the other three defenders.”

Teske finished with a team-high 18 points on 6 of 18 shooting for Michigan. 

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