Malik Williams helps Louisville close out Georgia Tech
With Louisville men’s basketball clinging to a one-point lead with less than 30 seconds left, Malik Williams made plays to seal the Cardinals’ fifth straight victory. After leading by 11 points with five minutes left, Louisville protected is advantage, weathering a 10-0 run and four-minute scoring drought to defeated Georgia Tech 68-64 at the KFC Yum! Center Jan. 22.
Williams, a 6-foot-11 forward, helped Louisville escape a scare in the final moments. He blocked Moses Wright’s layup, which would have given Georgia Tech the lead, with 24 seconds left and gathered the ball.
Williams was fouled after the defensive rebound, going to the free throw line with 23 seconds left. The junior made the front end of the 1-and-1 to extend Louisville’s lead to 66-64.
On Georgia Tech’s ensuing possession, Williams rebounded Michael Devoe’s shot from behind the arc with seven seconds left. Williams made both free throws, extending Louisville’s advantage to two possessions.
Despite missing five free throws earlier in the game, Williams said he went into his final two shots from the line with a next play mentality.
“I knew that I had to make the next two to make it a two-possession game,” Williams said. “Pretty much from there we are good.”
Williams tied for a team-high with 13 points, along six rebounds and three blocks in 22 minutes. Williams’ 13-point performance is the first time in his career that he has been the leading scorer for Louisville.
In his fifth double-digit scoring output of the season, Williams said he was trying to play his game.
“Just trying to get the win, trying to get offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, protect the rim,” Williams said. “Got to make free throws, especially the late ones.”
Louisville coach Chris Mack calls Williams one of the best defensive players in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Williams’ greatest attribute is his mind because he sees things develop, Mack said.
“His versatility and his mind and his length and his toughness and desire, just make him a terrific defender,” Mack said. “If we didn’t have him, we wouldn’t be a very good defensive team.”