No. 5 Louisville not sleeping on Georgia Tech this time

NCAA Basketball
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Louisville did not have an easy time taking down Georgia Tech at home last month, and should be well aware of the challenge that potentially awaits as the teams meet again.

The surging No. 5 Cardinals look for an 11th consecutive victory while trying to continue their recent success over the pesky Yellow Jackets on Wednesday night during ACC play at Atlanta.

For the first time since 1982-83, the league-leading Cardinals (21-3, 12-1) have won at least 10 straight conference games. They last won 11 in a row overall at any point during the season in 2014-15.

Louisville, vying for a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and hoping to return to Atlanta in April for the Final Four, knocked off Georgia Tech 68-64 at home during its current surge on Jan. 22. However, the Cardinals trailed 43-32 early in the second half before going on a 25-9 run that spanned nearly 12 minutes.

Steven Enoch and Malik Williams each had 13 points for Louisville, which shot just 41.4 percent but held the Yellow Jackets (11-13, 5-8) to 33 percent in the second half after the visitors hit on 62 percent of their first-half attempts. Still, the Cardinals had to sweat it out until the final buzzer to record a ninth consecutive win over Georgia Tech.

“We found a way to win and make plays down the stretch,” coach Chris Mack told Louisville’s official website following that win. “We just have to figure out a way to get better. We’re not this juggernaut.”

Louisville shot 51.0 percent, got 22 points from star Jordan Nwora (19.5 points per game) and 13 each again from Enoch and Williams, but also needed to work in the second half to top reigning national champion Virginia 80-73 at home on Saturday.

“They believe in how we play,” Mack said of his squad. “They believe in our system. I also have a lot of trust in those guys.”

Nwora has 43 points and 9-of-16 shooting from 3-point range in the last two games. He scored 25 while Enoch added 15 and Williams went for 13 in the Cardinals’ 79-51 win at Georgia Tech last season.

While Louisville eyes a sixth straight road win, Georgia Tech is trying for a fourth consecutive victory at home. The Yellow Jackets, though, have dropped two of three overall and have lost 18 in a row against ranked opponents since January 2018. They last beat a top-5 team in January 2016.

However, Georgia Tech should feel confident considering how competitive it was against the Cardinals last month — but at the same time know it must take better care of the ball after committing 17 turnovers at Louisville and 22 in Saturday’s 73-64 loss at Pittsburgh.

“You are not going to win any games in this league with 22 turnovers,” said Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner, whose team ranks last in the ACC averaging 15.9 turnovers. “We have had an issue with turnovers … This is just not going to win the game.”

Yellow Jackets leading scorer Michael Devoe (16.2 ppg) had 21 points at Louisville and 22 versus Pitt. However, the sophomore guard has averaged just 11.8 points in five ACC home games this season.

–Field Level Media

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