Christen Cunningham scored nine of his 17 points on free throws as No. 23 Louisville fended off several rallies from No. 21 North Carolina State to win 84-77 Thursday night at Louisville, Ky.
Several times it appeared Louisville, which has won four games in a row, might be in position to pull away before the Wolfpack posted a mini-scoring burst. The Cardinals (14-5, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) moved into a tie for first place in the ACC.
Malik Williams had 14 points, Jordan Nwora added 13 and Dwayne Sutton and reserve Steven Enoch each notched 10 points for Louisville.
Braxton Beverly’s 19 points led NC State (15-4, 3-3), while Torin Dorn added 18 points, C.J. Bryce had 15 and Devon Daniels posted 10.
After two Cunningham free throws for Louisville, Bryce connected on a 3-pointer with 1:27 to play to cut the gap to 77-75. The teams then traded turnovers before Louisville’s Ryan McMahon made two free throws at the 47-second mark.
Another NC State turnover and three more Cunningham foul shots helped wrap it up.
The Wolfpack ended up with 23 turnovers.
NC State fought back from a 10-point, second-half hole to pull even, only to have Louisville regain a spark for a 61-54 edge.
The teams combined for three 3-pointers in a 56-second streak, with the Cardinals holding a 73-69 lead when that flurry ceased. Louisville’s Khwan Fore hit a jumper before an NC State timeout at the 4:03 mark.
Louisville ended the first half on a 10-3 spurt for a 42-41 lead.
McMahon’s three gave the Cardinals a 20-10 lead. But the Wolfpack responded, going up 25-24 on Beverly’s 3-pointer.
NC State connected on eight straight shots during its strong first-half stretch. The Wolfpack hit five 3-pointers during a 13-minute span on the way to a 38-32 lead.
NC State played its third consecutive game without point guard Markell Johnson, who took a hard fall in a Jan. 12 game against Pittsburgh.
—Field Level Media