The sophomore point guard scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half and dashed down the floor to score the go-ahead bucket with 20 seconds left as the Cardinals rallied from 13 down to score a 52-51 win over Georgia Tech.
"We needed this one," Rozier admitted. "It's been a tough few days."
Jones, a senior and the team's third-leading scorer, was dismissed from the team on Sunday afternoon just before the team traveled to the Peach State.
And it looked like the Cardinals were going to take a third loss in four games, but instead Rozier stepped up when the game was on the line.
U of L used an 11-0 run to get back into the game after falling behind 41-28. In the run, Rozier hit two three-pointers after he started 0-for-3 and had hit just four of his previous 19 long-range shots in five games.
The Cardinals didn't take the lead until Rozier hit a layup with 59 seconds left to make it 48-46. But in a frantic finish - with both teams out of timeouts - Marcus Georges-Hunt scored on a layup with 28 seconds left to tie it.
Rozier then raced down the floor and scored at the rim. Travis Jorgenson tried to answer for the Yellowjackets but freshman Chinanu Onuaku blocked his shot.
Wayne Blackshear came up with the loose ball and hit two free throws. The Yellowjackets hit a three-pointer just before the buzzer to make the final margin.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Rozier still didn't have a great night shooting - 8 of 19 from the field. But he came through when the Cardinals needed him the most.
He hit a trio of three-pointers in the second-half surge, including the two to get the Cardinals back into the game. He finished 3 of 8 from long range.
Rozier, who played all 40 minutes, hit the game-winning bucket with 20 seconds left and seemed to settle the Cardinals on offense when they were struggling.
"I'm so proud of him," Rick Pitino said of Rozier.
THE KEY STRETCH
The Cardinals appeared to be about dead in the water, trailing 41-28 with 9:40 left in the game and looking like they wanted to get back home.
And then the Cardinals turned it on.
Rozier hit the two three-pointers to make it 41-34 and then Harrell had a basket before Blackshear nailed a three-pointer to make it 41-39 with 12:43 left.
The Cardinals didn't get the lead until 59 seconds left in the game, but the stretch was key to get back into the contest.
THEY SAID IT
U of L coach Rick Pitino:
"I’m as proud of this basketball team as any game I’ve ever coached because I’ve never seen a team have so many open looks from layups to wide open shots off good ball movement and [they’re] not falling. Earlier this year we had the same thing happen and we got down and we didn’t play good defense. But these guys kept their attitude and just focused on one thing: winning the game. You know Georgia Tech is just like us. We have two better players than them, but they’re just like us. They run great stuff, but the ball doesn’t go in. They’re not a good shooting team and we’re not a good shooting team. And that’s the most frustrating thing because they do so many great things offensively and so many great things defensively, and so did we. But when the ball doesn’t go in you struggle. But they’re a team that played Duke to the wire and had them. Notre Dame in overtime. They’re young right now and they suffer the same things we suffer and that’s ‘you have wide open shots and they don’t go down'."
U of L junior Montrezl Harrell:
"People can count us out, that’s fine. But just wait until March. We have something to prove."
A FEW LEFTOVERS
*****Blackshear finished with 10 point and eight rebounds in the game. He was the only other player in double figures.
*****Harrell finished with eight points and eight rebounds on 4 of 12 from the field.
*****U of L hit just 20 of 54 from the field, but was 13 of 26 in the second half. The Cardinals were 5 of 16 from three-point range after starting 0-for-9.
*****Freshman Quentin Snider came off the bench and played 36 minutes and finished with six points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals.
*****Freshman Shaqquan Aaron made his first collegiate start. He had two points on 1 of 3 from the field in three minutes.