Faced with an unexpected challenge Wednesday night from South Carolina Upstate, No. 2 Louisville responded with a 20-3 run midway through the second half, turning a potential major upset into a 76-50 non-conference win on its home court.
Jordan Nwora scored a game-high 28 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the 5-0 Cardinals, while Ryan McMahon added 15 points, all on 5 of 8 3-point shooting. Louisville made 50.9 percent of its field goals and dominated the rebounding 40-22.
Bryson Mozone paced the Spartans (1-5) with 14 points, connecting on 4 of 7 3-point tries. Upstate largely struggled with shooting and rebounding but stayed competitive by making 9 of 24 shots from distance.
But nothing could help the Atlantic Sun Conference school hang with the Cardinals after it led 43-40 following a Nevin Zink foul shot with 14:07 left in the game. Nwora's foul shots with 12:22 remaining gave Louisville the lead for good at 45-43.
McMahon added two 3-pointers to the run, while Darius Perry checked in with a third. Samuell Williamson finished the spurt with a transition dunk at the 6:06 mark for a 60-46 advantage.
USC Upstate made the first hit, starting the game with a 3-pointer from Tommy Bruner and maintaining the lead for nearly six minutes before Louisville finally took a 10-8 edge at the 13:42 mark as McMahon stroked a 3-ball off an offensive rebound.
Nwora's layup with 9:28 remaining in the half gave the Cardinals their first double-figure lead at 21-10. The margin was still 10 after a Williamson bucket with 8:05 left, but the Spartans answered back with a late spurt.
A 12-5 burst, capped by a layup from Zink with 2:38 remaining, pulled the visitors within 28-25. Louisville scored the next six points, but Upstate stole momentum going into the half when Mozone hit a 3-pointer with two seconds left to cut its deficit to 34-28 at intermission.
--Field Level Media