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Duke 63 Louisville 52

The Blue Devils bounced back from two ugly losses with an impressive road win at Louisville. Welcome to the ACC, Cards!

Amile Jefferson and Duke were fired up for the game with Louisville, and it showed.
Amile Jefferson and Duke were fired up for the game with Louisville, and it showed.
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

At this point in the season, it's fair to say that Louisville has some challenges. They aren't massive - the Cardinals are a legit Top Ten team - but this isn't as good a team as Rick Pitino has had the last couple of years.

Nonetheless, Louisville remains a formidable opponent and with Duke reeling with two straight losses, and bad losses at that, there was a sense that Louisville might just blow Duke out too. Why not? State and Miami did it and those teams aren't even ranked.

Didn't happen.

Duke came out and played a zone, which probably surprised Pitino a bit, and not only played it, but also held the Cards to just 29.5% shooting for the game.

Just as a comparison, not that it means much but as an interesting comparison, Kentucky held Louisville to 25.9%. In that game, Louisville's starting guards were just 8-33.

Against Duke, Louisville's starting backcourt shot 7-26.

Terry Rozier hit three threes, but overall Louisville managed just 4-25 from deep.

And impressively, the trademark Pitino pressure didn't really disrupt Duke very much as Duke (and Louisville) had just 10 turnovers each.

Louisville did a nice job on Jahlil Okafor in the first half, holding Duke's rising star to just a basket. In the second he got loose more and finished the game 8-10 for 18 points.

Duke shot 17-23 from the line (73.9%) but got just six points from the bench, all from Matt Jones on a pair of threes.

Louisville got 10 from its bench.

Obviously it was a big improvement over the last couple of games, and Duke and Kentucky have made it pretty clear that outside shooting is a serious flaw for Pitino's bunch.

It's also pretty uncharacteristic. Pitino was one of the first coaches to really use the three as an absolute lethal weapon. He's always had guys who could make that shot.

Add that in with the swarming pressure his teams can create, force a few turnovers and hit a few threes, and Louisville is never that far out of a game.

That's going to be tougher for this team. The Cardinals may be able to turn some teams over and run, but threes are not a certainty as they usually are.

Duke got another very good game from Okafor, who is justifying all his pre-season hoopla, a wonderful game from Amile Jefferson, who really stepped up as a leader, and a good game from Tyus Jones, despite an apparent first-half ankle injury.

Jones was 2-5 from the floor but had eight assists.

Quinn Cook was just 2-9 overall, 2-7, but had five rebounds and three steals.

Justise Winslow, it seems to us, is struggling, at least offensively. In this game, he was just 1-3 (although that layup was strikingly athletic) and just 1-4 from the line.

Who knows why? He could have an injury which hasn't been discussed. But we have noticed several times in recent games that Winslow, rather than taking the ball right at a defense, has tried to do fakes and jukes, and it's not working.

And he doesn't need to: he's athletic enough to explode on just about anyone. We'd like to see his confidence increase as well. His talent more than justifies it.

Credit a lot of that to Louisville's stout defense. Like Coach K, Pitino almost always has a good defensive scheme.

Duke overall finished 48.8% from the floor, significantly better than Louisville's 29.5%.

The Cards did grab 18 offensive rebounds, but that's a lot easier when you miss 43 shots.

For Louisville, what can you say? It was a tough loss. This team was excited and fired up  - and then ran into a defense it really struggled with.

Add this to the UNC loss, and the ACC, while obviously changed, looks a lot like it always does.