PITTSBURGH — Few things can get a team out of a slump faster than shooting 65 percent.
Terry Rozier scored 26 points and No. 10 Louisville made 30 of 46 shots from the field to get back on track with an 80-68 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Louisville (15-4, 4-3 ACC) had lost two of its previous three games. However, the Cardinals were in sync against Pitt as they posted the highest opponents shooting percentage at the Petersen Events Center since it opened at the start of the 2002-03 season.
“We usually win with defense, but tonight we won with our offense,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. “Not that the defense was bad but our offense was really special. When you have special offensive games, it’s always the result of great passing and we worked the ball well.
“It was a good win. We obviously needed to play well to get our confidence back after that Duke loss.”
Louisville shot just 29.5 percent in losing 63-52 at Duke on Jan. 17, then had to wait eight days to play again. The Cardinals showed they were ready to make amends right from the start.
“We had to get back to the basics, get back to the fundamentals of the game — boxing out, make sure we share the ball with each other,” Louisville junior forward Montrezl Harrell said. “We had to move on, get back to the drawing board.”
Rozier scored 18 points in the first half when Louisville shot a blazing 70.8 percent (17 of 24) in building a 40-30 halftime lead. The sophomore guard notched his fifth game with at least 20 points this season.
“We played zone and he got open within the zone,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “We played man and he made some tough shots, especially on fallaways. He’s a very good player and he just got going. Nothing we did seemed to be effective against him.”
Harrell scored 18 points to push his career total to 1,015 and become the 66th player in Louisville history to reach 1,000 points. The consensus preseason All-American had averaged just nine points over the previous four games and was so disappointed with his performance that he resigned his positon as a team co-captain earlier in the week.
“He needs to attack the rim to be truly effective,” Pitino said. “He quit trying to play like Kevin Durant tonight and played more like Montrezl Harrell.”
Senior guard Chris Jones added 17 points and nine assists for Louisville, and sophomore forward Mangok Mathiang finished with 10 points.
Sophomore forward Jamel Artis scored 18 points to lead Pitt (13-7, 3-4), which lost for just the third time in 13 games against top-10 teams at the Petersen Events Center.
Junior guard James Robinson had 16 points and six assists for the Panthers while sophomore forward Michael Young added 14 points and nine rebounds before fouling out and sophomore swingman Chris Jones scored 12 points.
Pitt scored the first five points of the second half, closing the gap to 40-35 on a free throw by Robinson. However, Louisville answered by outscoring the Panthers 22-9 over the next 10 1/2 minutes to take a commanding 62-44 lead on a layup by Harrell with 6:59 left.
Louisville wound up needing the cushion, though, as Pitt closed to 68-59 with 3:09 remaining before the Cardinals again pulled away.
After Young’s jumper put Pitt ahead 10-8, Louisville answered with a 10-1 burst to move in front for good at 18-11 with 11:44 remaining in the first half. Rozier sparked the run with seven points.
“He saw opens spots, he attacked it,” Harrell said of Rozier. “They gave him open driving lanes and he made them pay for it.”
NOTES: Senior F Wayne Blackshear is now Louisville’s lone captain after junior F Montrezl Harrell gave up his co-captaincy earlier in the week. Blackshear scored six points before fouling out with 4:15 remaining. … Pitt freshman G Cameron Johnson missed his 12th straight game and is expected to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery later in the week. He is averaging 4.5 points a game. … Louisville won despite being outrebounded 34-28 and committing 15 turnovers to Pitt’s 12. … Louisville plays at Boston College on Wednesday night. … Pitt, which began a stretch of
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