LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville trailed Wake Forest in tempo and points at halftime. The Cardinals cranked up the energy after the break, and that kept them on their roll.
Jordan Nwora had 21 points and scored the go-ahead basket during an 18-5 second-half run that rallied No. 5 Louisville past Wake Forest 86-76 Wednesday night for its ninth consecutive victory.
Wake Forest led 46-34 at halftime behind 60% shooting before the Cardinals (20-3, 11-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) picked things up and mounted the pivotal run over the first five minutes of the half. Nwora followed Ryan McMahon’s four-point play with a breakaway dunk for Louisville’s first lead at 52-51, and the Cardinals stretched it to 67-60.
The surge came after Louisville players talked things out in the locker room while coaches met down the hall in coach Chris Mack’s office.
“The intensity definitely picked up,” said Louisville guard Lamarr Kimble, whose 14 points came after halftime. “I felt like we were foaming at the mouth at the beginning of the second half to do whatever to get that run. That was big for us to come out there and reshape our whole energy from the first half.”
Louisville made a season-high 14 of 28 3-pointers, including 6 of 12 in the second half, to finish 48% from the field after shooting 41% in the first half. The Cardinals also held the Demon Deacons (10-12, 3-9) to 9 of 30 from the field in the final 20 minutes and extend their longest winning streak in ACC play.
“Defensively, we didn’t adjust,” Mack said. “We just did what we were doing a hell of a lot better.”
Nwora made 5 of 8 from deep and 6 of 12 overall. Dwayne Sutton added 15 points and 11 rebounds, McMahon 12 points and Steven Enoch and Malik Williams 11 points each.
Andrien White scored 17 points and Olivier Sarr had 16 points and six rebounds for the Demon Deacons before fouling out. They had sought consecutive wins for the first time since winning three in a row from Dec. 14-Jan. 4.
“We wanted to win this game more than anything,” White said. “We felt we were well prepared coming into this game and it didn’t tip our way.”
By The Numbers
Louisville is 20-3 for the first time since 2004-05 and has started 11-1 in conference play for the first time since 1993, when it won the Metro Conference championship. … The Cardinals improved to 7-2 against Wake Forest, including 3-1 at home. … The Demon Deacons began 6 of 14 from long range before making just 2 of 11 in the second half.
Wake Forest: Unfazed by Louisville at the start, the Demon Deacons pushed their tempo and made clutch shots that forced the Cardinals to try and make up the deficit from outside. The second half was the complete opposite as they were overwhelmed on both ends and couldn’t stop Louisville on the perimeter. Wake Forest is 1-4 against ranked schools this season.
“I thought we got off to a really good start offensively, especially from behind three,” coach Danny Manning said. “We shot the ball really well. I thought we did a good job of getting the ball to the paint below the free-throw line, making good decisions and we had guys ready to shoot it on the catch. That gave us a chance to build the lead.
“The second half, not so much.”
Louisville: The Cardinals shot better from deep than inside the arc in the first half and that proved to be their saving grace as shots continued to fall. Most importantly, they contested Wake’s attempts more aggressively after halftime, especially in those early moments that seized momentum and the lead.
Wake Forest concludes its two-game road swing at Syracuse on Saturday.
Louisville hosts defending national champion Virginia on Saturday, looking to end a nine-game losing streak against the Cavaliers. The Cardinals close the regular season in Charlottesville on March 7.
Dotson double-double, Steger flurry carry WCU
HOMEWOOD, Ala. — Carlos Dotson scored 20 points and pulled down 14 rebounds for his sixth consecutive double-double and Western Carolina beat Samford 78-70 on Wednesday night.
Onno Steger added 18 points and seven rebounds for Western Carolina (15-7, 7-4 Southern Conference), while Mason Faulkner added 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Xavier Cork had three blocks.
The Catamounts cruised through much of the first half before Samford made it a fight, grabbing the lead for short stretches and starting the second half forging two ties. Steger caught fire after the second tie, scoring eight straight points with a pair of 3-pointers and a driving layup to spark Western Carolina on a breakaway 14-1 run.
Robert Allen had 15 points to lead the Bulldogs (8-17, 2-9), who have now lost nine games in a row. Jalen Dupree added 14 points and seven rebounds. J.P. Robinson and Brandon Robinson scored 10 points each.
Josh Sharkey, the Bulldogs’ leading scorer (19 points per game), was held to eight points on 1-for-6 shooting. He added 6 of 7 from the free-throw line.
Western Carolina faces Furman at home on Saturday. Samford plays UNC Greensboro on the road on Sunday.
UNC Greensboro rolls past The Citadel
GREENSBORO — Keyshaun Langley had 17 points off the bench to help UNC Greensboro to an 88-68 win over The Citadel on Wednesday night.
Isaiah Miller had 15 points and six assists for UNC Greensboro (18-6, 8-3 Southern Conference). Kyrin Galloway added 14 points. Kaleb Hunter had 13 points. The Spartans remain one game behind East Tennessee State and Furman (both 9-2) in the conference standings.
Fletcher Abee had 16 points for the Bulldogs (6-16, 0-11), who have lost 11 in a row. Derek Webster Jr. added 14 points and Kaelon Harris had 11 points.
The Spartans swept the season series. UNC Greensboro defeated The Citadel 79-69 on Jan. 15.
UNC Greensboro takes on Samford at home on Sunday. The Citadel plays VMI at home on Saturday.