Louisville Cardinals edge Purdue Boilermakers 71-64 in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

The bench provided a spark for the Cardinals as they beat the 15th ranked Boilermakers.

Louisville Cardinals edge Purdue Boilermakers 71-64 in ACC/Big Ten Challenge
James Rhodes/USA Today
Louisville Cardinals
71 64
Purdue Boilermakers

On Tuesday night, the #14 Louisville Cardinals hosted #15 Purdue in a ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup. This was a defensive matchup with both teams not being known for their jump shooting ability.

Purdue was supposed to have the edge in the paint but it hardly seemed like it the entire night. The Cardinals were able to clinch the victory at home against the bigger Boilermakers. Here’s what we learned about Louisville from the top 15 matchup.

Jaylen Johnson with Ryan McMahon after the win where McMahon played hero with two big long range bombs off the bench to lift the Cardinals.
Jaylen Johnson with Ryan McMahon after the win where McMahon played hero with two big long range bombs off the bench to lift the Cardinals. | Photo: Gail Kamenish/gocards.com

“We knew we would have to win this game on defense,” said Rick Pitino.

Shooting is still a weak point for the Cardinals

To no one's surprise, Louisville still isn’t consistant when shooting the ball. Louisville shot the three-point basket only 14-percent in the first half going one for seven. Starters Quentin Snider and Donovan Mitchell combined for only five for 20 in the entire game with 17 points. Shooting 64.7% from the free throw line doesn’t help either.

The Louisville bench combined for 28 points shooting 12 for 15 from the field while the starters were 16 or 43. That’s what happens when Pitino trusts his bench like he said he needed to do more of after the loss against Baylor. Louisville didn’t shoot it all that well, but Purdue shot it worse, that’s why Louisville was in command for most of the game.

Bench Heros

Ray Spalding played 26 minutes off the bench and had 11 points with nine rebounds. He bothered Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas all night with his 7’4 wingspan.

Ray Spalding going for the block against the frustrated Caleb Swanigan who didn't get his first field goal until midway through the second half. | Photo: gocards.com
Ray Spalding going for the block against the frustrated Caleb Swanigan who didn't get his first field goal until midway through the second half. | Photo: Gail Kamenish/gocards.com

It doesn’t hurt that Spalding went five for five from the floor as well. Anas Mahmoud contributed nine points and five rebounds with four from four from the field. The only bench player to actually miss a shot was V.J King who went 0-3. The real star off the bench though was Ryan McMahon. He came off the bench with Snider not playing that well and had six points. The points came off the same plays of out of bounds open three’s that were huge every time they went in.

Wasn’t Purdue supposed to have better big men?

Coming into the game, anyone in the country would rather have the tandem of Swanigan, Haas and Edwards. They combined for 23 points and 19 rebounds. While, the tandem of Mathiang, Spalding and Mahmoud had 31 points and 18 rebounds. Isaac Haas is a 7’2 center who was supposed to wreck the Mangok Mathiang who isn’t known for being the biggest player. Louisville only outrebounded Purdue by two rebounds but it didn’t seem that close.

The starting tandem of Swanigan and Haas didn’t even have their first field goal until late in the second half just after the 10 minute mark. Purdue did though, shoot 10-23 from beyond the arc which Pitino said they wanted to force the Boilermakers to beat them by the long range shot instead of dominating the paint.

Also, Spike Albrecht didn’t score.

It was a great win by the Louisville Cardinals who was coming off a disappointing loss to Baylor. The next tough game is a neutral site game against a very talented Indiana team. The Purdue game showed that Louisville can win games by defense and are again a top 10 defensive team in the country. Now only if they stopped giving up huge leads down the stretch, I could breathe a little lighter towards the end of games.