Louisville kicked off its 2019 postseason in impressive fashion, dominating overmatched Notre Dame from start to finish on their way to a 75-53 triumph Wednesday night in the second round of the ACC tournament from Charlotte.
Jordan Nwora set the tone early, connecting on his first four field goal attempts and scoring U of L’s first 12 points. The ACC’s Most Improved Player finished with a game-high 24 points to go along with nine rebounds. Ryan McMahon came off the bench to bury three three-pointers, score 12 points and hand out five assists. Steven Enoch (10 points, seven rebounds) was the only other Cardinal to score in double figures.
Like Louisville, Notre Dame also came out shooting hot. The Irish hit four of their first seven field goal attempts to build an early 10-9 advantage. They then misfired on 19 of their next 20 shots from the field, falling behind by as many as 16 before cutting the Cardinal advantage to nine before the break.
It was all U of L coming out of the locker room. The Cardinals quickly pushed their lead into double figures thanks to six points from Nwora, and never let 15th-seeded Notre Dame within striking distance again.
Louisville’s 22-point win over Notre Dame is its largest margin of victory in the 39-game series, surpassing the 73-57 win on Mar. 9, 2013.— Kelly Dickey (@RealCardGame) March 14, 2019
It’s the Cards’ largest margin of victory in a conference tournament game since a 94-65 win over Houston on March 14, 2014.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Louisville’s performance Wednesday night was the fact that it held Third Team All-ACC performer John Mooney to just seven points on 3-of-18 shooting. It was the worst shooting performance of the season for Mooney, and just the third time in 20 ACC games that he was held to a single digit point total. Mooney went for 22 and 13 in the first meeting with Louisville.
As a team, Notre Dame was a woeful 18-of-67 (26.9 percent) from the field and 3-of-27 (11.1 percent) from beyond the arc.
Louisville shot 39.4 percent from the field and turned the ball over just five times, tied for their second lowest total of the season. The Cardinals also got the added benefit of getting some significant rest for both Nwora and point guard Christen Cunningham, two players who will be asked to shoulder a healthy chunk of the load when it comes to handling the pressure of a North Carolina team that will push the pace for all 40 minutes Thursday night.
With the win, Louisville now joins Duke, Kansas and Gonzaga as the only Division-I programs that have won at least 20 games in each of the last 17 seasons. The Cards are also now 4-0 all-time in conference tournament games against Notre Dame.
Let’s get ready to do the thing again tomorrow.