Louisville turned back a three-game losing streak with two wins.
PITTSBURGH — V.J. King, Anas Mahmoud and Malik Williams each scored 14 points as Louisville clobbered Pittsburgh, 94-60, on Sunday afternoon at the Petersen Events Center.
It was Louisville’s second consecutive win and moved the Cardinals (18-8, 8-5 ACC) into a tie for fourth place with North Carolina, their next opponent on the schedule.
Louisville hasn’t lost to Pittsburgh since 2010, winning 12 in a row against the struggling Panthers. The last three Louisville wins have been an average margin of 38.3 points, including the 55-point rout of Pitt last season.
Leading scorer Deng Adel sat out for the second straight game because of a sprained ankle. Starting in his place, freshman guard Darius Perry totaled seven points, seven assists, three rebounds and two steals.
Jordan Nwora contributed 13 points and Quentin Snider 11 for Louisville.
Sunday’s game was one of the best statistical outputs of the season for the Cards, who shot a season-best 63 percent from the field and made 10 of 19 from 3-point range. They scored 44 points in the paint and notched a season-high 23 assists on 34 field goals.
Now it gets serious: Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh are 13th and 15th in the ACC, respectively. Their games against Louisville came at the perfect time, when the Cards needed confidence-boosters and league wins after a three-game losing skid. They got all of that, moving to eight wins in one of college basketball’s toughest conferences. One more league victory puts Louisville in a relatively favorable position to secure an NCAA Tournament bid.
More Louisville news: Is Louisville basketball on the NCAA Tournament bubble?
But the next five games make up the most difficult portion of the Cards’ schedule. Playing with the same intensity and cohesion on both of ends of the floor is a must for Louisville.
Defensive intensity maintained: Louisville will have to play with the same defensive determination in the final five games of the season, because it provided the backbone to two straight routs of inferior opponents. The quick defensive rotations led to hurried shots and dangerous passes from Pitt’s guards. Perry was particularly a nuisance on defense, but it was another strong team effort from Louisville. That bodes well going forward, even if the opponent strength will increase.
Snider shakes slump: The past three games have not been the best of Snider’s career. The Louisville native was 5 of 24 from the field, including just 2 of 13 on 2-pointers. He made up for it in other ways, like posting seven assists twice in the past three contests or making 9 of 10 from the free-throw line. But Louisville needs him to be a shooting threat, even as the Cards’ role players find their confidence and rhythm. He took a step forward Sunday, hitting 3 of 5 in the first half and finishing 4 of 8.
Freshmen energetic, again: For the second consecutive game, Louisville’s freshmen played significant roles in multiple facets of the game. Perry was everywhere on both ends of the floor, active with his hands and persistent with his penetration. His good finds led to a handful of layups and five assists in the first half. Nwora and Williams kept their hot shooting ways going, both hitting 3-pointers in the first half. They were a combined 4 of 4 in the opening 20 minutes and finished 10 of 13.
Up next: Louisville now has the school week off before returning to action at home Saturday against No. 22 North Carolina. ESPN will carry that broadcast.
Louisville is on a two-game winning streak after a victory at Pitt.
Jeff Greer: 502-582-4044; email@example.com; Twitter: @JeffGreer_CJ. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/jeffg.