LOUISVILLE -- Limiting Purdue's fearsome low-post game to modest numbers, No. 14 Louisville beat the No. 15 Boilermakers 71-64 in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge Wednesday night at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino spent most of the lead-up to Wednesday night's showdown vs. Purdue (5-2) talking about the need to contain Purdue's massive inside presence, 7-foot-2 center Isaac Haas and 6-9, 250-pound forward Caleb Swanigan.
"We trapped. We fronted. We went after it really hard," Pitino said. "The guys really focused on the game plan. We know how tough they are. ... Purdue is one of the two or three teams that can win the Big Ten and if we keep playing this type of defense, we're going to be a very good basketball team down the road."
The Cardinals (6-1) did a great job limiting Haas and Swanigan in the first half, holding them to just one point (a free throw by Haas) on 0-for-8 shooting. Haas and Swanigan finished the game with 5 of 16 shooting for 22 total points, mostly on free throws.
Louisville was led by Mangok Mathiang and Ray Spalding, who each had 11 points. The Cardinals forced Purdue into 17 turnovers and outscored the Boilermakers 32-18 in the paint.
"We knew we would have to win this game with defense and we certainly played unbelievable defense in the first half," Pitino said. "Holding Swanigan to no points and Haas to just one, but they are a really good basketball team."
The Cardinals led throughout the game, building an early lead as Purdue missed five of its first six and nine of its first 11 shots. Louisville led 19-9 and 21-11 in the first half before Purdue cut the margin to 25-19 with just over two minutes left on a 3-pointer from Purdue sophomore Ryan Cline.
Louisville responded to Purdue's run by scoring the final eight points before halftime. A 3 by sophomore wing Deng Adel, a three-point play by sophomore forward Ray Spalding and a jumper by David Levitch at the buzzer put Louisville up 33-19 at the break.
"Obviously we struggled," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "We probably had our worst half of the season. Just a lack of concentration, like I said, with those 10 turnovers. We had experienced players turning the ball over."
The Boilermakers scored the first five points of the second half, netting a 3 and a jumper from P.J. Thompson. Purdue chipped into the Louisville lead until a free throw by Haas cut the margin to 35-27 with 16:59 left.
Louisville scored the next seven points and 12 of the next 15 to build a commanding 47-30 lead with 13:42 remaining. The Cardinals' defense continued to frustrate the Boilermakers.
"You are not going to beat a team like Louisville with 17 turnovers," Painter said. "We beat Auburn with 21 turnovers so our team thinks that it's OK, but we can't turn the ball over like that against a good team."
Purdue wasn't finished yet. The Boilermakers had an 8-0 run midway through the second half. Swanigan, Purdue's leading scorer at 18.8 points per game, hit his first field goal, a trey, with 9:48 left in the game to cut Louisville's lead to 51-41.
The Boilermakers came up empty two possessions in a row while down 56-48 with just under five minutes left. A three by Louisville freshman Ryan McMahon ended Purdue's run and pushed the Cardinals' lead back to double-digits with 4:00 left.
Haas got his first field goal of the game, after seven misses, with 2:57 left. He got a dunk on Purdue's next possession to cut Louisville's lead to 61-52. Purdue got a pair of free throws from Dakota Mathias, a free throw by Edwards and a three by Cline to cut Louisville's lead to 62-58 with 1:35 left.
"I think we were just more effective in the second half," Painter said. "We didn't have as many turnovers, even though we had seven. We got the ball. Isaac... was getting good looks. ... Swanigan got more aggressive with things."
Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell hit a lay-up and a jumper a possession later to stave off Purdue's final rally and ice the game at 66-59 with 47 seconds left. A 3 by Swanigan cut the lead to 68-64 with 14 seconds left. Louisville sophomore Deng Adel hit 1-of-2 and Mitchell hit 2-of-2 to set the final margin, 71-64.
NOTES: Louisville trailed the Purdue series 5-11 coming into Wednesday night's game. ... Louisville played 12 different players in the first half. Rick Pitino said he blamed himself for Louisville losing a 20-point lead in the Battle 4 Atlantis title game vs. Baylor because he didn't substitute enough. ... Louisville held Purdue to just 7 of 28 shooting in the first half (25 percent). The Boilermakers were just 3 of 16 from inside the arc.