No. 7 Virginia heads on the road to face struggling Louisville

no.-7-virginia-heads-on-the-road-to-face-struggling-louisville

No. 7 Virginia won a game Saturday it probably should have lost. That same day, Louisville lost another game it probably could have won.

Both teams look to move on Wednesday night as the Atlantic Coast Conference co-leading Cavaliers visit the last-place Cardinals.

Virginia (19-4, 11-3 ACC) escaped with a 69-62 overtime home win against Duke on Saturday after a controversial ending in regulation.

Afterward, league officials admitted that Blue Devils forward Kyle Filipowski should have been awarded two free throws with the game tied at 58-58 on what was the final play of regulation. Instead, the Cavaliers scored the first five points in OT and went on to win for the ninth time in 10 games.

While Duke lamented the free throws it did not get to take, Virginia was left feeling plenty of angst about the ones it did take. The Cavaliers shot a dreadful 40.9 percent (9 of 22) at the charity stripe.

“Ironically, we do a little free-throw challenge game at the end of a lot of practices, and yesterday (Friday) was the first time all year that every guy made every free throw,” Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said.

Cavaliers forward Ben Vander Plas, who missed six of his 11 free throws, said the experienced team found a way “to keep pushing through” the adversity.

“You got to be able to control your effort on the defensive end and just keep doing everything else,” said Vander Plas, who finished with 13 points, four rebounds and four steals.

Virginia’s defensive effort forced a season-high 22 turnovers by the Blue Devils, including four in overtime.

Armaan Franklin led the Cavaliers with 23 points, including a clutch 3-pointer in OT.

Franklin (12.7 points per game) is one of four Virginia players scoring in double figures this season, along with Kihei Clark (11.6), Jayden Gardner (11.3) and Reece Beekman (10.0).

The Cavaliers head to Kentucky for the first of two meetings with Louisville, who ends the regular season March 4 in Charlottesville, Va.

The Cardinals (3-22, 1-13) added to their school single-season record for losses Saturday night with a 93-85 defeat at then-No. 19 Miami. Louisville was within four points with less than five minutes remaining but couldn’t get over the hump despite a career-high 33 points from senior El Ellis.

The Hurricanes scored 20 points off a dozen turnovers by the Cardinals. Louisville has had double-digit turnovers in all but one game this season (nine in a Dec. 20 loss to Lipscomb).

“Whenever there’s adversity, we compound the mistakes,” Cardinals head coach Kenny Payne said after the loss at Miami. “We can’t compound mistakes, especially on a night when we’re scoring the ball really well.”

Ellis (17.4) is the only Cardinals player scoring in double figures, followed by Jae’Lyn Withers (9.6) and Mike James (9.3).

Louisville has only one victory this calendar year, a 68-58 home defeat of Georgia Tech on Feb. 1.

All of the wins for the Cardinals have come at home, where they are 3-11. All three of Virginia’s ACC losses have been on the road.

–Field Level Media

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