Nwora leads the Cards with 25 points while Sutton adds 15
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jordan Nwora scored 25 points as No. 2 Louisville defeated Western Kentucky 71-54 on Friday to remain unbeaten and make its case for the No. 1 ranking.
There will be a new No. 1 team when The Associated Press Top 25 comes out on Monday because top-ranked Duke fell at home to Stephen F. Austin 85-83 in overtime on Tuesday.
The Cardinals last topped the AP poll on Jan. 14, 2013, and they went on to win the national championship that year.
Dwayne Sutton added 15 points as Louisville (7-0) never trailed while holding Western Kentucky to its lowest point total and shooting percentage (37%) of the season. Taveion Hollingsworth scored 16 points for Western Kentucky (6-2), which also got 14 points and nine rebounds from Charles Bassey.
Louisville entered the day ranked third among Division I teams in field-goal percentage (53%), while Western Kentucky was fifth at 52.8%. Neither team shot nearly that well Friday, but Western Kentucky was particularly cold as it struggled to get easy shots against Louisville’s defense.
Western Kentucky shot 20 of 54 overall and was 1 of 17 from 3-point range. The Hilltoppers had been 41.1% from beyond the arc before Friday.
Louisville scored the game’s first nine points and led by as many as 19 points before taking a 37-23 advantage into halftime.
Western Kentucky heated up early in the second half and got the deficit down to 10 when Josh Anderson converted a steal into a dunk with 14:03 left. The Hilltoppers finally got the margin into single digits at 51-42 when Bassey hit both ends of a 1-and-1 with 9:35 remaining.
Louisville responded by scoring seven straight points – capping the run with a 3-pointer by Nwora – as part of a 13-2 spurt that put the game away.
Louisville: Whether or not the Cardinals earn the No. 1 ranking, they’re about to find out just how good they are as they prepare to host Michigan in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Michigan is currently unranked but could move near the top of the poll Monday after beating Iowa State, No. 6 North Carolina and No. 8 Gonzaga this week to win the Battle 4 Atlantis at Paradise Island, Bahamas.
Western Kentucky: The Hilltoppers lacked the efficiency on offense they had shown for much of the season. Western Kentucky was held 30 points below its scoring average and scored 15 points fewer than its previous season low.
Louisville hosts Michigan on Tuesday.