No. 7 Louisville 59, Ohio 54
Louisville coach Rick Pitino insists his team is just trying to
survive November until a few key contributors can get healthy. In
the meantime, Kyle Kuric appears to be ready to carry the
Kuric scored 16 points and Gorgui Dieng grabbed a career-high 16
rebounds to lead to No. 7 Louisville to a 59-54 victory over Ohio
on Friday night in the Global Sports Invitational.
”We’re in a survival mode right now is all we’re trying to
do,” said Pitino, who won his 250th game as Louisville’s coach
after reaching 600 wins overall earlier this season. ”We are so
banged up, we lack practice so much because our practices right now
are so light and so easy, I’m just afraid to get somebody hurt.
We’re just trying to survive right now and hold off the enemy until
the cavalry comes.”
This one was in doubt until the final minute. Ohio held a
six-point lead with under 4 minutes to play before the Cardinals
”We (had) to come back, we’re at home, it’s early in the
season. We’re not going to lose,” Kuric said. ”So, we all came
together, got stops and we got scores for the win.”
Kuric hit a 3 in the corner, made a key steal and helped find
Chris Smith for a fast-break layup that gave Louisville a 53-51
lead with 1:49 left.
After a dunk by Chane Behanan, Ohio’s D.J. Cooper hit a
3-pointer to cut it to 55-54, but T.J. Hall and Cooper missed 3s in
the closing seconds that would’ve tied the game.
”We came in here and nobody gave us a chance,” Cooper said.
”We were able to do our thing. We got the lead but we weren’t able
to hold on. We just stuck with our system, trusted one another.
There weren’t many open shots, but we were able to knock down a
few. Louisville, they were the best defensive team we have
Louisville (5-0), which has won 13 straight at the KFC Yum!
Center, got a lift from the surprise return of point guard Peyton
Siva, who missed the previous two games with a severely sprained
”Today, I didn’t think I was going to play,” Siva said. ”I
even told my mom I didn’t think I’m going to suit up today. About
10 minutes before the game, coach Pitino put my name in the
starting lineup, and I was like, `Oh man, I need to get ready to
go.’ I told him I was ready to go. I would play if this ankle was
For a while, the bigger surprise was the Bobcats, who were
poised to knock off a top-10 team on the road for the first time in
”We didn’t come here for a moral victory,” Bobcats coach John
Groce said. ”Our guys believed that they could win the game, and
then to get into position to win the game and then to not finish
Ohio (3-1) made two comebacks in the second half, including
erasing a nine-point deficit to tie it at 41 with 5:12 left after
Walter Offutt scored twice down low before Hall hit a 3-pointer
that had Pitino calling timeout.
The Bobcats weren’t done.
Kuric missed a jumper for Louisville and Cooper hit a 3 to give
Ohio its first lead in more than 21 minutes, 46-43. After another
Louisville miss, Cooper followed with a three-point play that left
teammate Stevie Taylor pointing to the sky in delight.
The Cardinals promptly battled back, putting together a 9-0 run
to take a 55-51 lead. Smith hit two free throws and had the
tiebreaking fast-break layup during the spurt.
Cooper hit a 27-footer that cut Louisville’s lead to one, but
Siva hit two free throws and neither Hall nor Cooper could hit 3s
to tie it in the final seconds. Behanan hit two free throws for the
final margin and finished with 11 points.
Cooper scored 16 and Reggie Keely had 11 for the Bobcats, who
had one of the better performances against Louisville’s defense,
which continues to throttle opponents by allowing an average of 46
points over the first five games.
The shifting zones and pressure have taken the spotlight off the
Cardinals’ injury situation. Louisville is without Mike Marra (left
knee), Rakeem Buckles (right knee) and Wayne Blackshear (right
Dieng is a work in progress, but showed promise against
Ten of his 16 rebounds were on offense and he went 5 of 10 from
the field. On one possession, the 6-foot-11 sophomore was stripped
of the ball as Pitino shouted ”Don’t bring it down! Don’t bring it
The next time, Dieng kept the ball high and went up strong for
two, heeding his coach’s advice on the way to a career night.
”Gorgui had a very subpar game, but if you look at his stats,
you’d think he’d had a very good game,” Pitino said. ”He’s just
got to get stronger physically because he brings the ball down too
much. He’ll get better at it, though.”