Louisville focused on Pitt in ACC road test

samdraut

If every game is a big game at this point in the year, Louisville men’s basketball doesn’t have to worry looking ahead to second-ranked Duke Saturday, Jan. 17 as it prepares for Pittsburgh. The Panthers host Louisville at the Peterson Events Center Jan. 14 in a rematch of a Dec. 6 meeting that the Cardinals won 64-46 for their second Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) win of the year.

Louisville coach Chris Mack scoffed at the thought that his team might not be focused on Pitt (11-5 overall, 2-3 in the ACC) in their second of three straight road games.

“They’re all big,” Mack said. “It’s hard to win on the road in conference.”

Louisville (13-3 overall, 4-1 in the ACC) is coming off its second straight win after defeating Notre Dame last Saturday in South Bend for just the second time since 1994. Mack said Pitt’s guards Trey McGowens and Xavier Johnson are the engine for the team.

McGowens averages 13.2 points per game while Johnson is the team’s second leading scorer at 11.8 points per game.

“If you’re going to beat Pittsburgh, you’re going to have to keep their guards out of the lane,” Mack said. “They play extremely downhill, whether it’s off a ball screen, off of isolations in space, whether it’s in transition.”

Johnson went 6 of 10 from the field for 15 points against Louisville in December, but McGowens was limited to four points on 2 of 9 shooting.

Ryan McMahon, a fifth-year senior who scored 17 points against Notre Dame, doesn’t think the team will be looking ahead to Duke.

“I don’t think it is that difficult because last time we went to Pitt they beat us,” McMahon said. “We know they are a really good team, they have some electric guards.”

After going 2 of 10 from the field in Louisville’s loss to Kentucky Dec. 28, Jordan Nwora has responded with his best basketball of the year. The junior forward is averaging 23.7 points on 57.1 percent shooting from the field along with averaging 8.7 rebounds in Louisville’s last three games.

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