Louisville bounces back with win over Virginia Tech

Louisville, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - Terry Rozier's 16 points led a balanced Louisville attack as the sixth-ranked Cardinals cruised to a 78-63 victory over Virginia Tech in an ACC clash.

Rozier went 4-of-6 from 3-point range, while Wayne Blackshear hit three shots from beyond the arc in a 15-point effort in the Cardinals' final tune-up before Saturday's home showdown with No. 4 Duke.

Montrezl Harrell and Mangok Mathiang each finished with 11 points and eight rebounds for Louisville (15-2, 3-1 ACC). Harrell added three blocks to anchor a Cardinal defense that held the Hokies to a 34.1 shooting percentage inside the arc.

Louisville also received a career-best 11 assists from point guard Chris Jones.

"We're getting better, and I think it all stems from Chris Jones' willingness to be a leader and to be a point guard," Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino remarked. "I still want to see him take open shots because we need that at times, but he was totally into getting people good shots and running the team and doing great things defensively."

Adam Smith ended 5-of-7 on 3-point attempts and scored 19 points for Virginia Tech (8-8, 0-3). Justin Bibbs and Ahmed Hill had 15 and 14, respectively, in the Hokies' fourth consecutive defeat.

"We've got to get a lot better, a lot tougher, play a lot harder," said Hokies head coach Buzz Williams. "In all the ways (Louisville is) good, those are all the ways that we need to improve."

The Cardinals experienced no hangover from Saturday's tough one-point loss at North Carolina, nor were they caught looking ahead to this weekend's matchup with Duke. Louisville opened up a 17-2 lead through seven minutes of play and stayed comfortably ahead the rest of the way while dominating on both ends of the floor.

Rozier put up eight points during Louisville's early tear, during which the Cardinals made six straight baskets at one stretch and held the Hokies scoreless for six minutes.

Virginia Tech cut its deficit to nine points on several occasions in the first half, but Louisville ended the period on a 10-0 spurt and owned a 43-24 advantage at the break after Blackshear beat the buzzer on a 3-point try.

The Cardinals pulled away further in the second half. Blackshear and Rozier started the stanza with back-to-back treys to begin an 8-0 stretch, and the lead later reached 29 points when consecutive buckets from Harrell made the score 63-34 with 12:24 to play.

Virginia Tech was able to close the gap somewhat during the latter stages, pulling within 76-60 with two minutes left behind a 12-2 run against mainly Louisville reserves.

"Their team was totally overmatched, and I think they worked really, really hard, and I just wanted to make sure that they weren't embarrassed in any way possible because they worked so hard," said Pitino of the Hokies. "It was good that we gave some guys an opportunity, with a big game coming up, to play."

Game Notes

The schools were facing one another for the first time since Jan. 26, 1995, when both were members of the now-defunct Metro Conference ... Louisville has now won 10 straight meetings in the series ... The Hokies dropped their 10th straight ACC road game and 19th of 20th overall in league play ... Louisville outscored Virginia Tech by a 34-18 margin in the paint.