LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After losing two in a row, Louisville didn’t have a lot of momentum heading into Saturday’s ACC game against Miami at the KFC Yum Center.
And for the first 20 minutes, it didn’t look like the Cardinals were going to get their swagger back against the Hurricanes.
But a 17-3 run to start the second half and three free throws by junior forward Montrezl Harrell in the final 35.6 seconds lifted the Cardinals to a 55-53 victory.
Harrell led Louisville with 21 points and 17 rebounds, hitting 7-of- 13 from the field. He gave the Cardinals the lead with two free throws at with 35.6 seconds left and added another with 10 seconds remaining to seal it.
Senior point guard Chris Jones, who was suspended for Wednesday’s loss at Syracuse, came off the bench for 17 points and five rebounds. Senior forward Wayne Blackshear added 10 points for Louisville.
The Cardinals (21-6, 9-5 in the ACC) lost to North Carolina State and Syracuse in back-to-back games and will play at Georgia Tech on Monday night.
Junior Sheldon McClellan led Miami (17-10, 7-7) with 17 points, while junior center Tonye Jekiri had 13 points and 15 rebounds. He sustained what appeared to be a concussion in the first half, but was cleared to return in the second half.
Miami hit 12-of-29 from the field and held the Cardinals to only 7- of-29, including a stretch of more than six minute without a field goal, in the first half.
The Hurricanes led by as many as 13 points and were up 29-19 at the break.
But the Cardinals started the second half with that 17-3 run, sparked by Jones. He scored nine points, including a 3-pointer, early in the half.
Jones gave Louisville its first lead of the game at 33-32 with 14:41 left. But he missed the free throw to convert the three–point, only to have senior forward Wayne Blackshear come up with the rebound.
Blackshear passed to Jones for a 3-pointer and a 36-32 lead, but the Hurricanes wouldn’t go away and used a 6-0 surge to go ahead, 41-38.
Rozier, who made only one of his first 11 shots from the field, hit a bucket with 6:08 to give the Cardinals a 43-42 lead. There were four lead changes in the next two minutes before Miami went up, 53-50, with a little more than two minutes left on two free throws by Burnett.
Blackshear hit a floater in the lane to make it 53-52 with 1:17 left to set up a frantic finish.
“We gave them the momentum early in the second half and we knew we couldn’t do that,” McClennan said. “We had to not give them the momentum.”
Rozier then came up with a deflection and steal that led to Harrell getting two free throws with 35.6 seconds left.
Burnett turned the ball over with 11 seconds left and Harrell added one of two free throws.
Rodriguez missed a 3-point shot at the buzzer that would have won it.
NOTES: Louisville has been so good in the five-year history of the KFC Yum Center, but has lost three home games this season. The Cardinals are 79-12 all time in the building. … The Cardinals had a crowd of 21,345 fans for this game despite nasty winter weather in the area. The city has had almost a foot of snow this week, including an ice storm on Saturday morning. … Junior PG Angel Rodriguez is closing in on 1,000 career points for his time at Kansas State and Miami. Rodriguez had 640 in his two seasons at Kansas State and has 333 this season with the Hurricanes for a total of 973.
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