No. 9 Louisville holds off Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech’s third game of the ACC season was somewhere between its upset of North Carolina and its blowout loss to Duke. Playing its third consecutive game against an AP top 10 team – a first in team history – the Yellow Jackets fell to No. 9 Louisville 65-50 Saturday at McCamish Pavilion.

The Jackets gave the Cardinals trouble on the defensive end, but were adrift with the ball in their hands, thanks in no small part to Louisville’s pressure. Louisville shot 38.3 percent from the field, well below its season average of 43.6 percent. Tech, however, made only 34 percent of its field-goal attempts and compounded that inefficiency with 14 turnovers.

Louisville (13-3 overall, 1-2 ACC) took a 16-3 lead at the 15:03 mark in the first half and relied upon that advantage for the remainder of the game. The Cardinals’ lead over Tech (9-6, 1-2) ranged from three to 15 for the remainder of the game.

The 3-pointers were a distressing continuation of Tech’s problems defending beyond the 3-point arc against Duke, when the Blue Devils lit up Tech for 16 3-pointers on 31 tries. Louisville entered the game shooting 32.4 percent and made 9 of 16, often taking wide-open shots after collapsing Tech’s zone with drives into the lane.

Louisville enjoyed difference-making advantages from 3-point range and in offensive rebounding. The Jackets shot 1-for-8 from 3-point range and obtained only 10 offensive rebounds to Louisville’s 16. The Cardinals scored 18 second-chance points to the Jackets’ 12.

Still, Tech made Louisville, which has beaten No. 6 Kentucky, No. 20 Purdue and No. 25 Indiana, work for its first ACC victory. After Louisville stretched its lead to 41-26 at the 12:14 mark, the Jackets ripped off a 12-0 run to cut the lead to 41-38 with 9:21 remaining. Center Ben Lammers scored 10 of the 12 points as teammates repeatedly found him for dunks and layups.

The Jackets cut the lead back to three again on the next possession, on another Lammers dunk on a feed from guard Josh Okogie, but Louisville answered with a 3-pointer from guard Quentin Snider – on a possession extended by an offensive rebound – and the Cardinals were safe for the remainder of the game.