Louisville basketball: Three takeaways from ugly win over Pitt

David Johnson #13 of the Louisville Cardinals. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
David Johnson #13 of the Louisville Cardinals. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /
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Louisville basketball picked up an ugly win over Pitt to move to 5-1 on Saturday.

It was far from a pretty performance for Louisville basketball en route to a win in their first ACC matchup of the season.

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On a night where Pitt was missing two of their best players in Justin Champagnie and Au’diese Toney, the Cardinals snuck out of Pittsburgh with a victory despite a rather poor performance under the circumstances.

Normally, a 10-point win would look awfully good against a solid ACC foe. But Pitt being without two key pieces made the win look not nearly as impressive as it should have. It felt like a game that should have been a blowout in favor of the Cardinals. That was not to be.

Louisville got Josh Nickelberry back in action for the first time in this 2020 season. He got 10 minutes of run while knocking down a three-pointer to top off his night. It was not a lot, but it was an encouraging sign to work Nickelberry back in to some game time.

It looked like it was about to be a huge night for the Cardinals in the first half when they started the game off on fire with a 24-9 run. Then, Pitt roared back on a 19-4 counter punch of their own to tie the game at 28-all with a minute left in the first half.

From there on out, it was a slobber knocker going the distance that Louisville was fortunate enough to win in the end.

This kind of performance leaves little to be inspired about heading into Saturday’s showdown against Kentucky.

Despite a rather miserable looking basketball game, Louisville did pull out the victory at the end of the night to push their record to 1-0 in the ACC.

Let’s talk about three takeaways from the performance against Pitt.

Rebounding won the team the game

The battle on the glass is something that takes huge precedent in any game. But, tonight, it was even more meaningful in the victory.

On the night, Louisville out-rebounded the Panthers by a 45-26 margin which is something you typically see out of an ACC team playing a mid-major opponent. Despite lacking in other key areas, the Cardinals competed all night on the glass.

David Johnson and Sam Williamson both ended the game with double-digit rebounds with 11 and 12 respectively.

The guards crashed the paint and got a lot of deflections off of the initial bounce off of the rim that allowed Louisville to get themselves in a better situation to grab the ball off of missed shots.

Louisville was especially good on the offensive glass. They ended the game with 15 offensive rebounds on the night.

There is an easy argument to be made that the main reason for victory in this game was the huge victory on the glass.

One of the biggest concerns coming into the year without Malik Williams was certainly rebounding. The team plays nobody greater than 6’8″ on the floor for the majority of the game and going against the size of an ACC program was definitely a huge issue on the surface. But, if the team gets on the glass as a collective like they did this evening, they will be just fine.

Justin Champagnie not playing in this game was a huge factor. He is one of the best rebounders in the country. Had he played, it would have been interesting to see how the Cardinals would have handled it.

Louisville plays a Kentucky team that will provide a huge test from a rebounding standpoint on Saturday.