Louisville, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - Chris Jones scored 22 points and helped key a huge Louisville run to begin the second half that lifted the fifth- ranked Cardinals to a hard-earned 58-52 victory over Clemson.
Louisville (14-1, 2-0 ACC) was down 22-18 at halftime after shooting a woeful 22.2 percent over the first 20 minutes, but went on a 17-0 tear following the intermission and never trailed again in its first conference home game as an ACC member.
Terry Rozier netted six of his 15 points during the pivotal spurt, while Jones had all but two of his points in the second half.
Wayne Blackshear added 11 points for Louisville, but finished 3-of-13 from the floor. The Cardinals shot just 32.7 percent for the game, but held Clemson to a 30.8 percent success rate in a defensive slugfest.
"No game's going to be easy. Everybody's going to play you tough," Rozier said.
Clemson (8-6, 0-2), coming off a 24-point home loss to No. 18 North Carolina on Saturday, was led by Jaron Blossomgame's 15 points. Damarcus Harrison finished with 12 in defeat.
After recording a mere six field goals in 27 attempts prior to the break, the Cardinals matched that number in less than 4 1/2 minutes during their game- changing sequence.
Blackshear got it started with a 3-pointer on Louisville's initial possession and Rozier sank a go-ahead layup in transition on the Cardinals' next trip down the court. Montrezl Harrell followed with a thunderous putback dunk, and another Rozier layup preceded Jones' triple that staked Louisville to a 30-22 lead just 3:36 into the period.
"The message I tried to get to the team at halftime was, 'Guys, the (2013) championship team understood styles, and you don't," Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said. "We didn't understand it was going to be a dog fight. Our guys have to understand the ACC and what it's all about."
Harrell threw down another jam to cap the run and put the Cardinals up by a 35-22 count with 13:27 left to play.
"By the time we got our legs back under us, we were in trouble," said Clemson head coach Brad Brownell. "There's so much (pressure by Louisville's defense), so much random trapping that it forces your guys to make plays."
Clemson did finally regroup, with Harrison and Blossomgame knocking down consecutive treys to ignite a 9-0 push that cut the margin to four. Jones answered with back-to-back 3-pointers, but the Tigers countered with an 8-0 stretch to pull within 42-40 with six minutes to go.
Louisville then turned it up a notch on the defensive end, as Clemson didn't make another basket until Donte Grantham's layup with 41 seconds left.
The Cardinals outscored the Tigers 9-2 in between, while sealing the outcome by hitting 10-of-12 foul shots in the final minute.
After going 50 percent or better from the field in wins over Long Beach State and Wake Forest that preceded Wednesday's test, Louisville misfired on 11 of its first 15 attempts in this one.
The Cardinals' problems were compounded with Harrell, the team's second- leading scorer, on the bench for most of the first half after picking up two quick fouls on a night he was held to a season-low six points.
Louisville was still able to keep it close behind its defense. However, the Tigers ended the frame on an 8-2 run, which Blossomgame and Harrison started with consecutive 3-pointers, to enter the break owning a slim 22-18 edge.
Louisville went 4-of-10 from 3-point range in the second half after a 2-of-14 display in the first ... Jones had five of the Cardinals' 11 steals ... Clemson has averaged just 56.2 points over its past five games ... The Cardinals have won all four all-time meetings with Clemson, the most recent of which took place in the second round of the 2006 NIT Tournament ... The Tigers have now lost 23 of their last 24 matchups against top five teams.