Louisville Wins Third Straight, Hands Duke Second Straight Loss
By GARY B. GRAVESLOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Anas Mahmoud had a career-high 17 points and 11 rebounds, Donovan Mitchell added 15 points and No. 14 Louisville shot 59 percent in the second half to top No. 7 Duke 78-69 on Saturday.
Louisville has now beaten Duke and Kentucky, considered two of the favorites to win the NCAA championship in April.
“Really proud of our guys,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino told reporters. “Tremendous game.”
Duke had outshot Louisville for much of the game, but the Cardinals had the hotter hands in making 17 of 29 from the field to gain the edge. Mitchell had the touch from beyond the arc, making consecutive 3s while scoring 10 second-half points during a stretch that resulted in a 69-60 lead with 4:03 left.
Mahmoud soon followed with a put-back dunk and two free throws around Quentin Snider’s 3 as the Cardinals (15-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their third in a row. Snider had 13 points.
Grayson Allen, a frequent target of boos from the red-clad crowd, scored 23 points as the Blue Devils (14-4, 2-3) suffered their second loss this week. Luke Kennard added 17 points.
“I think it’s a reflex, like someone throwing an elbow, because he’s a highly, highly intelligent young man, so why would you do it?” Pitino said of Allen’s incidents. “I think he’s a terrific young man who made a mistake, made three of them. I think it’s a reflex action, when he does something wrong, he’ll lunge out or trip someone out.”
THE BIG PICTUREDuke: The Blue Devils led for most of the first half before allowing Louisville to take the lead with 5 ½ minutes remaining for a 34-30 edge at the break. Despite staying close for behind nine straight points by Allen, they struggled to prevent a series of small Cardinal runs that put the game away.
Louisville: The Cardinals finished even with Duke from the field (47 percent) and on the boards (32-32) but controlled the paint 36-26. Mahmoud’s movement was a big help down low, and Ray Spalding contributed 11 points.
Duke’s second straight loss, even on the road to a ranked foe, could drop them out of the Top 10. Louisville move closer to the Top 10 with the win.
UP NEXTDuke: Gets some down time before hosting Miami on Jan. 21 and North Carolina State two days later.
Louisville: Hosts Clemson on Thursday night before visiting No. 9 Florida State on Jan. 21.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.