Louisville, Ky. — The No. 12 University of Virginia Men’s Basketball Team (11-1, 1-0 ACC) opened its ACC schedule with a 61-53 defeat of the No. 6 Louisville Cardinals (11-2, 0-1 ACC) on the road at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, KY on Wednesday. The Hoos are undefeated in ACC openers under Head Coach Tony Bennett (8-0).
Bennett’s Cavaliers led by as many as 21 halfway through the second half en route to UVA’s first road victory over a top-10 opponent in 14 seasons (Feb. 6, 2003 at #8 Maryland).
The Cardinals surged four spots from 10 to six in the AP poll this past week after defeating then-sixth ranked Kentucky 73-70 in a fast-paced, high-scoring affair. But, against a defensively sound Virginia team, the Cards struggled to get out in transition and score via the fast break. UVA’s London Perrantes spoke postgame about his team’s effort to stymie Louisville’s rapid pace of play.
“It’s our transition defense…We knew coming into the game we had to get back in transition to make it a long day for [Louisville], and it was.”
Louisville, who lacks a consistent outside shooting option, converted on only two of 14 from beyond the arc, and was unable to open up UVA’s packline defense.
The Wahoo defense held Louisville to only 21 points in the first half, its fewest allowed this season. The Cardinals failed to surpass the 50-point threshold until the final minute of play and no Louisville player scored in double figures.
In his postgame press conference, Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino referred to UVA as his team’s “kryptonite,” because “we just don’t play well against them.”
Virginia, coming off a tense road victory over a tough Cal team last week, was well prepared for this challenging road test. The Hoos jumped out to a 5-0 lead – a lead that would not be relinquished for the remainder of the contest.
London Perrantes, the steady hand that guides the Hoos, led the team in minutes played (37) once again, tallying nine points and seven assists. Perrantes, with 494 career assists, has passed Othell Wilson (493, 1981-84) to claim the sixth spot all-time in career assists at Virginia.
Devon Hall led the Hoos with 10 points, his third double-figure scoring performance of the season.
The Wahoo bench, averaging 34.3 points per game, had another strong showing (29 points) behind arguably one of the nation’s best sixth men, Kyle Guy, who contributed nine points in 19 minutes of court time. Mamadi Diakite tallied eight points off the bench, while both Jarred Reuter and Marial Shayok added six.
The gauntlet of tough tests has just begun for this Wahoo club, who will host ACC-foe No. 20 Florida State on Saturday at 2pm at John Paul Jones Arena. FSU is one of seven ACC opponents Virginia will face between now and perhaps its toughest matchup of the season versus defending National Champion, No. 1 Villanova on Sunday, January 29th.