LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Junior forward Montrezl Harrell picked up his 21st double-double and the University of Louisville starters had some help from the bench for the first time in a few weeks as the Cardinals rallied to beat the Pittsburgh Panthers 69-56 in an Atlantic Coast Conference clash at the KFC Yum Center on Wednesday night.
Harrell, who hit 12 of 17 from the field, finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Cardinals to a 20th win on the season. Sophomore guard Terry Rozier added 22 points and 10 rebounds for Louisville (20-4, 7-3 ACC).
But it was the play of the bench that sparked a 22-2 surge to put the Cardinals in front control late in the game.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino said this week he was trying to get more from his bench, which hadn’t scored a point since Jan. 31. The Cardinals hadn’t had a single point from any player coming into the game other than Harrell, Rozier, senior guard Chris Jones or senior forward Wayne Blackshear in 88 minutes, 15 seconds.
That changed for Louisville.
Sophomore guard Anton Gill sparked the Cardinals early in the second half with a one-handed slam dunk and freshman guard Quentin Snider played the final 12 minutes of the game at the point guard spot. Snider had four points, one rebound and one assist, while 7-foot freshman center Anas Mahmoud had two points, two rebounds and one blocked shot.
All that came after it looked like the Panthers were primed to hand Louisville a second consecutive loss for the first time all season.
Pittsburgh hit 6 of 7 field goals during a stretch as the lead swelled to 45-39. But that’s when Louisville took over, scoring 10 straight points and 14 of the next 15 in the game.
Rozier started the run with a jumper and then Snider hit his first basket since Jan. 28 on a baseline jumper. Harrell and Rozier added baskets before Snider nailed a 15-foot jumper to make it 49-45.
Harrell scored the next six points, including a thunderous dunk, as the Cardinals forged ahead. The largest lead came in the final minute at 69-53.
Louisville did play most of the game without Blackshear, who averages 11 points and 4.8 rebounds a game, because of an injury. Blackshear suffered a hip pointer earlier in the day at practice and aggravated the injury in the first minute of the contest.
Michael Young scored 16 points to lead Pittsburgh (16-9, 5-6), which had won three in a row.
Louisville had another slow start at home and the Panthers scored the first four points of the game.
But the Cardinals were quick to answer with a 9-0 surge that saw freshman center Chinanu Onuaku produce the first points from someone other than the team’s four leading scorers in 90-plus minutes.
Sophomore forward Jamel Artis scored the final seven points for Pittsburgh, which trailed 27-22 at the break.
Louisville was 12 of 22 from the field in the first half after making 17 of 24 (70.8 percent) in the meeting between the two teams last month.
The Panthers hit just 8 of 26 and had a stretch of 5:25 without a point. They didn’t made a field goal for the final 4:57.
NOTES: Louisville sophomore Terry Rozier is the second-leading scorer in the ACC and is also second in steals. Rozier, who was averaging 20.7 points in the last 16 games, averaged 20 points and 2.1 steals in ACC play. … Louisville’s record in February during the last eight years is 43-11, including wins in 12 of its last 13 games. … The Panthers entered the game on a three-game winning streak, the second longest of the season. Pitt also won three in a row in early December and only had two other occasions this season with back-to-back wins.
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