Kuric lifts Louisville over West VirginiaFeb 11, 2012 - 9:40 PM Louisville run, then made a critical steal in the closing seconds to help the 24th-ranked Cardinals notch their sixth straight win with a 77-74 triumph over West Virginia.
Kuric finished with 17 points and Russ Smith added 16 for Louisville (20-5, 8-4 Big East), which hasn't lost since a January 16 setback at Marquette and will try to continue its streak on Monday with a visit from Syracuse.
Kevin Jones scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for West Virginia (16-10, 6-7), which has lost two straight and five of its last six. The Mountaineers have also dropped three in a row at home.
Louisville trailed 71-64 with just under six minutes left, but scored the next 11 points. Kuric's three-pointer with 2 1/2 minutes remaining tied it for the Cardinals and Truck Bryant turned it over soon after, leading to a Smith layup for a 73-71 Louisville lead.
Chris Smith added two free throws for a four-point edge before Jones converted a three-point play with 50 seconds remaining to pull West Virginia within one.
The Cardinals worked the shot clock down on their next possession and Kuric's three-point try came up short with 14 seconds left. Gary Browne then tried to thread a pass inside to Jones, but Kuric stepped in front of the pass and was fouled.
"He is trying to get it to KJ and KJ wasn't in the post and he tries to throw it through people," West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said about Browne's turnover.
Kuric sank both from the stripe for a three-point advantage with 5.5 seconds to play and Bryant's tying attempt from the left wing failed to draw iron.
Bryant finished with 13 points in defeat, while Deniz Kilicli chipped in 17 before fouling out late in the contest.
The Cardinals received 13-point efforts from Chris Smith and Wayne Blackshear, while Peyton Siva contributed 10 with five assists. Louisville made 10-of-22 from three-point range, led by Kuric's 4-for-8 performance. Chris Smith and Blackshear each hit three from beyond the arc.
Blackshear, a freshman, was playing his first game of the season after sitting out with a shoulder injury.
"Wayne Blackshear came in and gave us a really big lift," said Louisville head coach Rick Pitino. "He gave us 20 good minutes. The one thing that was evident when Wayne came back was that he really knows how to play the game. His mental capabilities on the floor are terrific."
Kuric hit a pair of early three-pointers to help Louisville to an 11-6 lead, but West Virginia came right back and grabbed a 16-14 edge on a triple by Bryant. Chris Smith answered with a shot from long range for the Cardinals, but West Virginia later stormed ahead with a 12-0 run.
Jones had a dunk and a three-pointer during the surge for the Mountaineers before a free throw from Kilicli gave West Virginia a 30-20 edge with eight minutes remaining in the half. The lead reached 13 on a three by Aaron Brown, but Louisville trimmed the margin to five before a layup by Dominique Rutledge sent West Virginia to the break with a 44-37 advantage.
The Mountaineers' lead hovered between eight and 10 points for most of the second half and it was a seven-point bulge with just under six minutes left after a layup by Rutledge.
Jones notched his 18th double-double of the season...Louisville improved to 9-4 all-time against West Virginia, including 3-3 in Morgantown...West Virginia's last five games have all been decided by six points or less.
- LOUISVILLE: 77
WEST VIRGINIA: 74
Feb 11 2:07 PM
- LOUISVILLE: 37
WEST VIRGINIA: 44
Feb 11 12:53 PM
- LOUISVILLE: 0
WEST VIRGINIA: 0
1st Half - 20:00
Feb 11 12:04 PM
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