BOSTON (AP)Only a late-game cold streak kept Louisville forward Jordan Nwora from scoring 40 points and breaking a two decade-old record at Boston College.
The Atlantic Coast Conference preseason player of the year scored a career-high 37 points and added nine rebounds on Wednesday night to lead No. 6 Louisville to an 86-69 victory over Boston College.
Nwora twice squared up on a 3-point attempt in the final minutes only to miss a chance at his first 40-point game. He also fell two points shy of Richard Hamilton’s 1999 record of 39 points by an opponent at the Conte Forum, which opened in 1988.
”I don’t think he was worried about that,” Louisville coach Chris Mack said. ”I think he was worried about 40, that’s why he took two bad shots.”
Darius Perry scored 14 points and Malik Williams had 13 rebounds for Louisville (18-3, 9-1 ACC). The Cardinals have won seven straight and are off to their best conference start since the 2008-09 team won nine of its first 10 Big East games.
Derryck Thornton scored 17 points and Jay Heath had 16 for BC (10-11, 4-6). The Eagles have now lost five of their last six.
Louisville led 53-49 before putting together a 12-5 run – with eight of the points by Nwora. BC cut it to five, 67-62, with eight minutes remaining before the Cardinals scored 14 of the next 16 , getting six free throws from Nwora and back-to-back 3 pointers from Samuel Williamson and Ryan McMahon.
Nwora is the second-leading scorer in the ACC with an average of 18.7 points. But he had just 40 points total in the previous four games and took just five shots against Clemson on Saturday.
”I can score 20 points every game if I really want to. It’s not really about that this year,” he said. ”It’s about winning games. I don’t want to score 20 in a way that’s going to hurt the team.”
BC coach Jim Christian said his team wasn’t fooled by Nwora’s recent production.
”He hadn’t played well, so he’s due,” Christian said. ”He got into a great rhythm, he’s a great player. A couple of times we were right there. … Some guys you can be a step slow and still get there and contest it, not with a great shooter like that.”
Nwora scored 16 of his 21 first-half points during a 24-13 run that turned a five-point deficit into a six-point lead. Louisville scored 10 straight points while holding BC scoreless from the 12:05 mark until Jairus Hamilton drove to the basket to give the Eagles a 27-26 lead with about eight minutes left in the half.
Nwora made 7 of 9 shots in the first half – going 5 of 7 from 3-point range. He cooled off in the second and finished 11 of 20, missing his last five shots, including a final 3-point attempt with 41 seconds left and Louisville leading by 17.
”Everybody on the team was telling me to do it, so I was just kind of listening to them,” he said. ”I was right there, so I might as well try.”
Louisville: The Cardinals avenged last year’s loss in Chestnut Hill, a game Mack called ”sickening to watch.”
Boston College: The Eagles trailed by two at the half with two chances to tie it or take the lead. But in the second, they missed five free throws and turned the ball over seven times.
Louisville: At North Carolina State on Saturday.
Boston College: At North Carolina on Saturday, followed by
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