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Louisville passes Florida State for first in ACC

The Cardinals defeat Virginia Tech. FSU is a half-game back but with an extra game in hand.
Louisville forward Jordan Nwora tries to dribble past Virginia Tech guard Tyrece Radford as the Cardinals improve to 17-1 at home. [BRYAN WOOLSTON  |  AP]
Louisville forward Jordan Nwora tries to dribble past Virginia Tech guard Tyrece Radford as the Cardinals improve to 17-1 at home. [BRYAN WOOLSTON | AP]

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — With one game left in the ACC basketball schedule, Louisville controls its own fate.

Jordan Nwora had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and the 11th-ranked Cardinals moved into first place in the ACC with a 68-52 victory over Virginia Tech on Sunday.

Louisville (24-6, 15-4 ACC) rebounded from last week’s loss at Florida State and took a half-game lead over the Seminoles, who swept the season series and hold the tiebreaker for tournament seeding. FSU has games at Notre Dame on Wednesday and Boston College in Tallahassee on Saturday remaining, while Louisville closes out the regular season at third-place Virginia on Saturday.

“We win on Saturday, which is a huge task, we’re co-champions at least,” Louisville coach Chris Mack said.

Jalen Cone scored 15 off the bench and Nahiem Alleyne had 12 for Virginia Tech, which lost its fourth in a row and ninth in 10 games.

Nwora, a junior who was honored before the game along with Louisville’s seniors because he’s expected to enter the NBA draft, bounced back from an 11-point effort against FSU. He made 8 of 16 field goals with two 3-pointers.

“I didn’t want to go out and have my last game here be on a bad note,” Nwora said. “I just tried do my best, do the little things to help my team win.”

Nwora followed one 3 with a three-point play during the 15-2 second-half run that put Louisville ahead to stay.

“We moved a lot a lot better today,” Nwora said. “That opened up some things. There are times that our offense gets a little stagnant, so I feel like when we have a lot of movement on offense, we have the talent to get it done.”

Steven Enoch had eight points and 11 rebounds for the Cardinals, who owned Tech 40-26 on the boards. Louisville shot 50 percent in the second half and 46 percent overall while holding the Hokies to 38 percent from the field.

The teams began a combined 1-of-13 from the field in a first half that ended tied at 27. The Hokies controlled the pace early in the second half before Louisville took control by forcing mistakes.

“Not a bad start to the second half,” said Virginia Tech Mike Young, whose team committed 16 turnovers, leading to 19 Louisville points. “But quick possessions, two bad shots, a really bad turnover in transition and now you’re down 10 and you’ve got a problem.”

With 6-foot-11 center Malik Williams on the bench with a boot on his sprained left ankle, Louisville needed seniors Dwayne Sutton and Enoch along with Nwora to fill the void in the middle. Sutton finished with nine rebounds and eight points and added a three-point play.

Mack said Williams’ ankle remains swollen and it’s not clear whether he’ll play at Virginia.

The Cardinals’ home finale wasn’t pretty, though the finish was better than the start. Nwora created chances and had help from Ryan McMahon (10 points). Louisville finished 17-1 at home.

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