LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) After blowing past most teams to start the season, No. 18 Louisville showed it could finish out a close game Sunday night.
Freshman Donovan Mitchell had season highs with 18 points and eight rebounds in his first start and No. 18 Louisville held off Wake Forest 65-57 in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.
The Cardinals (12-2) held firm after Wake Forest tied it with 2:31 remaining to earn their first win under 20 points this season.
''That's huge for us,'' forward Damion Lee said. ''We were in two close games before and we weren't really able to close those games out.''
Those losses came on the road to now-No. 1 Michigan State and in the last outing at in-state rival Kentucky where Lee had a chance to win it on the last shot after his team rallied from a 16-point deficit.
Chinanu Onuaku added 12 points, a career-high 15 rebounds and blocked four shots for Louisville. Lee also had 12 points.
Bryant Crawford and Devin Thomas each had 14 points for Wake Forest (9-4).
Wake Forest trailed by eight at halftime, but tied it at 56 with 2:31 to play on Crawford's 3-pointer from the left wing. Crawford turned to silence the crowd with a finger to his lips after hitting the shot, but the Demon Deacons hit just one of their six free throws after that.
Lee's runner in the lane banked in with 1:01 left to put Louisville up 60-56. The Cardinals led 63-57, and Crawford missed three free throws with 17.8 seconds left.
The Demon Deacons finished 3 of 12 from the free throw line, while Louisville was 10 of 14.
''We've got to execute better, take better shots and when we get to the free throw line, make them,'' Bryant said.
Onuaku carried the Cardinals early as they scored 14 of their first 18 points in the paint. He finished the first half with 10 points, nine rebounds and three blocks and hit his first five shots, finishing 6 of 9 from the floor. Louisville used a 10-0 run to lead 18-9 early.
''Tonight was a game where Louisville come out and delivered the first punch and we didn't have enough left,'' Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said.
Mitchell scored five of his 10 second-half points after the game was tied at 56. The 6-foot-3 guard started in place of Trey Lewis, who was recovering from a sprained ankle but did play, and hit 3 of 5 3s in the first half to finish with nine points.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons outscored Louisville 12-0 on fast-break points. ... Wake Forest is 7-0 this season in games decided six points or fewer. None of their wins have come by more than 10 points. ... Sunday marked Wake Forest's first trip to Louisville since playing at Freedom Hall in the 1962 Final Four.
Louisville: The Cardinals used their eighth starting lineup of the season. ... Pieces of confetti remaining from a Kid Rock concert on New Year's Eve fell from the rafters throughout the game. Court attendants and managers scrambled to remove them, with coach Rick Pitino even picking up a piece midway through the first half.
ONUAKU OVERCOMING FOULS
Onuaku missed much of the first half against Kentucky because of foul trouble and played just seven minutes last year against Wake Forest, picking up three fouls without scoring or grabbing a rebound.
The 6-10 sophomore made it a point this year to try and slow Thomas, Wake Forest's leading scorer who had a career-high 31 points last year against the Cardinals.
''Last year, I didn't play a lot in the game because I think I was in foul trouble,'' Onuaku said. ''He was just talking about it a lot and I just took it upon myself to just try and stop him.''
Wake Forest: At Duke on Wednesday night.
Louisville: At North Carolina State on Thursday night.