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Clutch Threes Power Louisville Past NC State in ACC Opener

Matt Cross, Noah Locke each drain three-pointers in the final two minutes to give the Cardinals a victory over the Wolfpack to open up ACC play.

RALEIGH, N.C. - Taking a brief break in non-conference play for their Atlantic Coast Conference opener, the Louisville men's basketball program were able to bounce back from a blown lead, taking down NC State 73-68 Saturday at the PNC Arena.

Up by 14 at halftime, the Cardinals (6-2, 1-0 ACC) found themselves trailing by four in the final two minutes. After an El Ellis free throw made it a one-possession contest, a Noah Locke three-pointer with 1:31 left tied the game, then a Matt Cross three with 26 seconds left - as well as two on the shot clock - gave Louisville the lead. A pair of Jarrod West free throws would ice the game.

While Louisville shot 41.7 percent from the floor, the three-ball was working for Louisville, as they went 11-28 from beyond the arc. The Cardinals also rebounded the Wolfpack (6-2, 0-1 ACC) 46-30, including 14-7 on the offensive boards. NC State shot 40.0 percent and 8-28 on three-point attempts.

Five Cardinals finished in double figures, led by a 14-point/11-rebound double-double from Malik Williams. Cross poured in 13, Locke had 12, then Dre Davis & El Ellis each finished with 11.

Early on, it looked like Louisville's offensive struggles throughout much of the season were set to continue. The Cardinals opened up the game shooting just 1-9 in the first six minutes, and there seemed to be no rhythm.

But, the early shooting struggles soon turned into an afterthought, and shots finally started to fall. Louisville then shot 15-23 in the latter 14 minutes of the first half, while also connecting on seven three pointers. Combined with the Wolfpack being held to 10-28 to start the game, and the Cardinals took a 43-29 lead into the locker room.

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However, NC State responded with authority, and Louisville looked incredibly disjointed on both ends of the floor to start the second half. They shot just 4-16 in the first 12 minutes, allowed the Wolfpack to go 13-21, making way for 30-11 run and five-point lead in favor of the home squad.

After the eight minute timeout, Louisville was able to get into a little but of a rhythm, but not enough of one to get over the hump until the final two minutes of play.

Next up, Louisville will return home to the KFC Yum! Center and face DePaul. Tip-off against the Blue Demons is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 10 at 8:00 p.m. EST.

(Photo of Dre Davis via University of Louisville Athletics)

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