(Photo of Carlik Jones: Scott Utterback/Courier Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - With both the Louisville and Duke men's basketball programs heading into the KFC! Yum Center on two-game losing streaks, it was the Cardinals who were able to get back to winning ways, as they won 70-65 on Saturday in a game that featured 18 lead changes and 8 ties.
Guard Carlik Jones took over for Louisville down the stretch, as the graduate transfer from Radford scored 11 of Louisville's final 13 points, en route to scoring 19 second half points and 24 overall.
Backcourt mate David Johnson and forwards Dre Davis & Jae'Lyn Withers also finished in double figures, scoring 12, 11 and 13 respectively. Johnson finished with a team-high eight rebounds, and tied with Jones for a team-best five assists
Despite 24 points from forward Matthew Hurt, tied with Jones for the most in the game, Duke drops to 5-5 overall and 3-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, losing three consecutive games for the first time since January of 2016. Louisville moves to 10-3 and 5-2.
Both teams shot 46% from the field and the Blue Devils made two more three-pointers, but the Cardinals won the battles on the glass and at the free throw line. Louisville out-rebounded Duke 34-26, and shot 18-24 at the charity stripe to the Blue Devils' 7-9.
Unlike a majority of their games this season, the Cardinals did not start off sluggish in this one, outscoring Duke 10-5 prior to the first media timeout and connecting on three of their first four three-point attempts. In fact, throughout most of the first half, Louisville showed more energy in effort than in either of their previous two games.
While the Cardinals seemed to shake off their tendency to start slow, the Blue Devils were not deterred, especially Matthew Hurt. Averaging 18.9 points per game, he scored 15 in the first half alone on 6-8 shooting and a perfect 3-3 on three-pointers.
Both teams were relatively even keel heading into the half, as they both had 13 made field goals and five made three pointers, but a three point advantage at the free throw line by the Cardinals gave them a 36-33 lead at halftime. Neither team could gain much ground on the other during the first half, as the lead changed eight times with the largest advantage being only five points.
In the second half, head coach Chris Mack made Johnson the primary defender on Hurt, which paid immediate dividends. After a quick five points in the first couple minutes out of halftime, Hurt did not score for another twelve minutes of game time.
But despite that, and a strong offensive second half from Jones and Withers, Louisville could not find a way to put significant distance between them and the Blue Devils, as both teams continued to trade field goals.
After Hurt fouled out with 1:50 left in the game and the Blue Devils clinging to a one point lead, Duke could only muster a single layup from freshman Jalen Johnson for the rest of the game. Jones, who had already scored three of Louisville's last five points leading up to that moment, then proceeded to go 6/6 at the free throw line and poured in a contested layup.
Next up for Louisville, they will conclude their three-game home stand with a rematch against Boston College. Tipoff is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 30 at 12:00 p.m. EST on your regional sports network (Fox Sports South in Louisville).
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