Nwora scores 23 to lead No. 5 Louisville past Miami 87-74
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Jordan Nwora went 4 for 6 from beyond the arc, and from above the basket he didn’t miss.
Nwora threw in a dunk — literally — to go with his outside shooting, and totaled 23 points and 12 rebounds Tuesday to help the fifth-ranked Cardinals win their season opener at Miami, 87-74.
The Cardinals are touted as a potential Final Four team, and they lived up to the hype with a rout on the road against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent. Louisville led 72-40 before Miami rallied during garbage time.
Nwora, the preseason ACC player of the year, brought the Louisville bench to its feet when he leaped to make a one-handed catch and dunk in one motion on Ryan McMahon’s alley-oop pass.
“I actually did not think he was going to be able to catch it,” McMahon said. “I thought it was too bad of a pass. Somehow he snatched it out of the air and just threw it in the rim. He’s a freak athlete. It was a real cool play.”
Coach Chris Mack was more reserved in his review of the dunk.
“I don’t rate those things,” Mack said. “I’m just glad he didn’t miss it. I would have made him run sprints.”
The 6-foot-7 Nwora shot 8 for 16 and scored most of his points from the perimeter.
“Every time we left him open, even for a split second, he buried a 3,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said.
McMahon, a Florida native, sank three consecutive 3-pointers as Louisville scored 17 consecutive points during a four-minute span in the first half and never looked back.
McMahon scored 16 points and shot 4 for 7 from beyond the arc.
“He’s an elite-level shooter — as good as anybody in the country,” Mack said.
Freshman Samuell Williamson made his Louisville debut with 13 points and five rebounds in 24 minutes.
“He doesn’t look like a freshman on offense,” Mack said.
Dwayne Sutton contributed 16 points for the Cardinals, who shot 54%.
“We need to make progress in all areas,” Larranaga said.
He sent three freshmen into the game early in the first half, and they helped the Hurricanes score eight consecutive points to lead 16-9.
The Cardinals answered with their big run to surge ahead 26-16. A 9-0 run late in the half helped to make it 45-26 at halftime.
“We came out with some jitters, and once we settled down we were a little bit more comfortable,” McMahon said.
The crowd included actor Bill Murray, whose son is a Louisville assistant coach, and 18 NBA scouts from 13 teams. The scouts saw plenty to like from the Cardinals, who return six of the top seven scorers from last season’s NCAA tournament squad.
Defense remains a problem for the Hurricanes, who last season allowed opponents to shoot 45% and average 71 points, the worst numbers in Larranaga’s eight years at Miami.
Louisville junior forward Malik Williams (foot) and freshman guard David Johnson (shoulder) are still recovering from offseason injuries.
Miami’s Keith Stone, a 6-foot-8 graduate transfer from Florida, sat out while he continues to recover from an ACL injury. The Hurricanes hope he can return in January.
Cardinals fans made up a large portion of the crowd of 7,576. Louisville will try for a sweep of the Hurricanes when it plays at Miami in football Saturday.
“We did our part,” Mack said.
Louisville plays its home opener Sunday against Youngstown State in the first meeting between the two schools.
Miami hosts Florida Atlantic on Friday. The Hurricanes are 23-1 in the series, with their lone loss in December 2002.