Analysis: Kuric leads comeback

No. 23 Louisville (20-5, 8-4) won their sixth straight game with a gritty 77-74 comeback win on the road Saturday afternoon against rival West Virginia. Louisville trailed by double digits in the second half, turned up the full court pressure defense and overcame the Mountaineers with clutch free throw shooting and a key late steal from Kyle Kuric. Here's instant analysis of the game...


Louisville's thrilling come from behind victory over West Virginia sets up a key Big East clash Monday night against second-ranked Syracuse.
IT WAS OVER WHEN: Clinging to a three-point lead after Kyle Kuric hit two free throws with 5 seconds remaining, Louisville clinched their sixth straight victory when Darryl Bryant's potential game-tying three-pointer missed the mark and Kuric hauled in the defensive rebound as time expired.

KEY STATS: 10-22; 13-15
Louisville made 10 of 22 three-pointers and 13 of 15 free throws, keying their comeback win over West Virginia. Kuric made 4 of 8 threes, while Chris Smith and Wayne Blackshear both made three. And despite attempting 12 fewer free throws than the Mountaineers, Louisville made the most of their 15 attempts, making all ten of their second half free throw attempts.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: A strong argument could be made for Blackshear here, but Louisville doesn't win in Morgantown without Kuric, who led the Cardinals in scoring with 17 points. Kuric's three-pointer tied the game with 2:41, and his two free throws in the final seconds gave Louisville enough of a cushion to escape with a critical Big East road win.

BIG PLAY: There's no question Kuric made the biggest play of the game, picking off Gary Browne's pass in the final seconds. With UofL clinging to a 75-74 lead, WVU had the ball with a chance to take the lead, but Kuric stole Brown's pass toward the basket intended for Kevin Jones with 10 seconds left, was fouled and made both free throws for the final margin of victory.

TURNING POINT: Late in the first half, Deniz Killcli picked up his third foul on a technical. That foul forced the Mountaineers center, who gave Louisville fits inside during the first half, to the bench for large portions of the second half. Without Killcli on the floor, Louisville's relentless pressure wore the Mountaineers down in the second half and the Cardinals prevailed with a late 13-3 surge to close out the game.

TOP RESERVE: Russ Smith scored 16 points, hitting 6-12 field goals and all four free throws, but Wayne Blackshear's impact proved the difference for the Cardinals. Playing his first game of the season after shoulder surgery in November, the former HS All-American finished with 13 points and four rebounds in 20 minutes of action. Blackshear also blocked a shot and had a steal. Smith and Blackshear helped Louisville out-score West Virginia's bench 31-11.


Cardinal Authority Top Stories