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No. 18 Louisville outlasts No. 20 Duke as depleted Blue Devils run out of gas

Chinanu Onuaku, Luke Kennard

Duke’s Luke Kennard (5) attempts a layup past the defense of Louisville’s Chinanu Onuaku (32) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016 in Louisville Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)


No. 18 Louisville rallied from a double-digit second-half deficit as they outlasted a depleted Duke team for a 71-64 ACC home win. Playing shorthanded after junior Matt Jones suffered an ankle injury in the win over North Carolina, the No. 20 Blue Devils ran out of gas in the end as Grayson Allen fouled out with a little under four minutes left and freshman point guard Derryck Thornton battled a right shoulder injury. Louisville’s defense was at-times suffocating in the last 10 minutes as Duke’s half-court offense couldn’t get much going.

Incorporating more of a full-court press than they did in a loss to Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium earlier this season, the Cardinals (21-6, 10-4) wore down the Blue Devils and received some strong second-half shooting from senior Damion Lee. After committing only seven turnovers in the win over North Carolina, the Blue Devils coughed up possession 18 times as they couldn’t get into an offensive rhythm in the second half.

Lee led the Cardinals with 24 points while freshman Deng Adel gave key minutes in a 12-point, five-rebound effort. Chinanu Onuaku also contributed a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Duke had a tremendous effort from Allen, who finished with 29 points and played every minute of the game until he fouled out. Allen was 8-for-12 from the field and 8-for-9 from the free-throw line and played despite taking a hard elbow to the face in the second half from Louisville’s Jaylen Johnson.

Without Allen, the Blue Devils’ offense didn’t do much of anything as freshman Brandon Ingram struggled after making some early shots. Ingram had eight points and Luke Kennard added nine points as the two freshmen combined to go 6-for-20 from the field. Ingram finished the game with 10 turnovers.

For a Louisville team that has nothing to play for but pride, this was a great win and a nice effort in front of their home crowd. With Adel showing some positive minutes there is a lot of optimism for the future with more young Cardinals continuing to put up big efforts.

The loss for Duke (20-7, 9-5) snaps a five-game winning streak where they were playing very well against ranked teams. Allen looked like a potential ACC Player of the Year with his performance, but he needed more offensive help today and didn’t get it. The Blue Devils just need to get Jones and Thornton healthy for the stretch run because Duke is talented enough to compete with anybody if they don’t get too depleted.