Top 25 men's college basketball roundup
No. 16 Louisville 77, Wake Forest 65
No. 16 Louisville twice flirted with handing Wake Forest a lopsided loss only to squander leads. The good news for coach Chris Mack was the way the Cardinals responded each time.
Carlik Jones scored a season-high 23 points to help the Cardinals beat the Demon Deacons on Wednesday night, extending their best start in Atlantic Coast Conference play.
Samuell Williamson added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Cardinals (9-1, 4-0 ACC), who first let a 14-point lead slide all the way to four in the first half. Then, after pushing ahead by 16 after halftime, Louisville watched Wake Forest climb to within a point.
“I think it's very evident at times that we have a very young team that will give up a couple of easy ones and allow somebody to get back in the game," Mack said.
The Cardinals had issues with foul trouble — most notably with David Johnson picking up his fourth foul with more than 12 minutes left — as well as multiple players dealing with cramping. Yet Louisville never surrendered the lead before finally putting this one away in the final 6 minutes.
Jones said the message among the players in the huddle was “to just stick together and fight it out and dig it out, and I believe that's what we did tonight.”
Louisville shot 51% to reach 4-0 in the league, marking the program's best since joining the ACC before the 2014-15 season. It marked the best start in any league since for the Cardinals since winning their first eight Big East games during the 2008-09 season.
Daivien Williamson scored 19 points for the Demon Deacons (3-4, 0-4), who fell behind 50-34 lead just 90 seconds after halftime after giving up consecutive baskets off turnovers. They clawed back to within a point midway through the second half, only to go 9 1/2 minutes without a basket to squander a shot at an upset.
Wake Forest shot just 9 of 29 (31%) after halftime, including 2 of 14 from behind the 3-point arc.
“I’m going to have to go back and look, but I’m pretty sure we got a lot of wide-open looks,” first-year Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes said. “And we’ve got to make those.”
The Cardinals ran off a 16-0 run to lead by double figures in the first half, including a run of eight straight made shots and 10 straight scoring possessions. That hot shooting didn't hold up, but Louisville did enough to earn a third league road win so far this year.
The Demon Deacons showed plenty of fight to claw back in it after halftime. Ultimately, they couldn't come up with a desperately needed basket or two during that long drought during a close game before Louisville finally started to stretch the lead back out again.
“All in all, our kids competed hard against a nationally ranked team,” Forbes said. “But at the end, we still have a loss. And so we got to learn from it.”
Williamson, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, had a big performance after a one-point effort in last week's win against No. 20 Virginia Tech. Williamson credited a conversation with Mack to help his mindset.
“Just kind of playing with some more pop, running the floor was one of the main things we talked about,” Williamson said, adding: “He just told me he wants me to get out and run.”
No. 18 Virginia 80, Notre Dame 68
Jay Huff scored 18 points and Sam Hauser had 15 points and nine rebounds as Virginia beat Notre Dame for its fourth consecutive victory.
Huff, who is 7-foot-1, made a career-best four 3-pointers in the first half as Virginia (8-2, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) opened an 18-10 lead and built it to 37-25 by halftime.
Cormac Ryan scored 16 and Trey Wertz 13 for the Fighting Irish (3-8, 0-5), who lost their fourth in a row and fell to 0-11 against Virginia in conference games. Nate Laszewski, who burned Virginia for 28 points in their first meeting, finished with 12.
No. 21 Ohio State 81, Northwestern 71
Duane Washington Jr. scored a career-high 23 points to lead Ohio State to a win over Northwestern.
The Buckeyes (10-3, 4-3) avenged a one-point loss to the Wildcats on Dec. 26.
Justin Ahrens added 12 points, hitting four 3-pointers, including a timely one late in the second half to help preserve the Buckeyes lead.
Chase Audige kept Northwestern (6-5, 3-4) in the game, scoring 21 of his career-best 25 points in the first half. Audige, who was averaging 11.7 points per game, cooled off in the second half, just as Miller Kopp was heating up. He had 16 points in the second half to get Northwestern within one late in the second half.
Ohio State then went on a 12-0 run to secure the win.
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