LOUISVILLE — Was this a bounce-back from North Carolina or a warmup for Duke?
A little bit of both, maybe, as Louisville toyed with Virginia Tech en route to a 78-63 Atlantic Coast Conference victory Tuesday night at KFC Yum Center.
The fourth-ranked Cardinals (15-2, 3-1 ACC) rebounded nicely from Saturday's 72-71 loss at North Carolina. Next up, Saturday in Louisville, comes Duke.
So dominant was U of L on Tuesday that Coach Rick Pitino used every player at his disposal, then he entertained questions on his next opponent. More often than not, he stays focused on the night's task.
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"Duke's got a lot of great weapons that make it very difficult to guard," Pitino said. "If you trap the post, which most teams are doing, (freshman center Jahlil Okafor) is very good at finding them. They've very good off the bounce. What they run is fundamentally sound. They take advantage of their spacing, their shooting, their driving. So it's going to be a very tough game for us."
Not so tough a task was Virginia Tech (8-8, 0-3), which has now lost four in a row after winning four straight.
Terry Rozier led the Cardinals with 16 points, one more than Wayne Blackshear.
"I'm a gym rat," Rozier said. "So if you put in work, it shows. That's all it is. It's really no shock, no surprise. If you put in the work, you're going to get something out of it."
Montrezl Harrell and Mangok Mathiang each added 11 points and eight rebounds. Chris Jones had seven points and handed out a career-high 11 assists — one fewer assist than the Hokies had.
"The first-unit guys played really well and passed the ball really well," Pitino said. "They did a lot of really good things at executing, making extra passes. ... 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 work so hard. It was good that we gave some guys an opportunity, with a big game coming up, to play."
Adam Smith, a 6-foot-1 junior, hit 5 of 7 three-pointers and led Tech with 19 points. Justin Bibbs added 15 points, while Ahmed Hill had 14 points and seven rebounds.
U of L never trailed.
Tied at 2, the Cards scored the next 15 points and were in control the rest of the way.
Rozier fueled the 15-0 burst with eight points, including a pair of three-pointers. Harrell also drained a three, while Mathiang and Blackshear added two points each.
Tech was still within nine points before U of L closed the half with a 10-0 run to take a 43-24 lead into the locker room.
Blackshear started the rally with a dunk and closed it with a buzzer-beating three-pointer. In between, Jones converted a three-point play and Jaylen Johnson tallied on a put-back.
U of L made 18 of 33 first-half shots (54.5 percent) to Tech's 9 of 28 (32.1 percent).
The Cards continued their run by scoring the first eight points of the second half. The lead eventually grew to 29 at 63-34.
"I thought they were really good," Hokies Coach Buzz Williams said. "They're one of the best teams in the country. They'll play for a long, long time, like Coach's teams typically do."
On this night, with an eye looking ahead to Duke.