LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Despite statistics to the contrary, Louisville guard Darius Perry is stressing confidence in his ability to shoot from deep.
He has Saturday’s box score as proof.
Perry set career highs with 19 points and five 3-pointers, and No. 6 Louisville rolled over Clemson 80-62 for its sixth consecutive victory.
The Cardinals (17-3, 8-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) pulled away with a 20-0 first-half run and shot 66% before halftime. Louisville hit 10 of 21 from long range for the game, including Perry’s two 3s before the big spurt ended in a 31-9 lead. That advantage held easily even as Louisville shot 28% in the second half.
Perry finished 7 of 12 from the field and 5 of 6 from deep to surpass his previous high of 17 points last reached against Vermont on Nov. 16, 2018. The junior also had five rebounds.
“I feel like I’ve always shot the ball really well,” said Perry, who entered with a career average of four attempts per game. “I had one game in high school where I scored 30 points on 10 3s, so I’ve never been shy shooting the ball.
“I just hadn’t been shooting it well up to this point. Tonight, I shot the ball really well.”
Freshman Samuell Williamson scored 14 points off the bench, Steven Enoch had 11 points with seven rebounds, and Nwora scored 10 points as Louisville avoided becoming the Tigers’ latest upset victim. Clemson (10-9, 4-5) had won four of five, including victories at North Carolina and over then-No. 3 Duke.
“Obviously, we’re putting a lot of attention on (Louisville leading scorer Jordan) Nwora, and we’re guarding Perry,” said Clemson coach Brad Brownell, who recruited Perry in high school. “That’s the hard part when you’re playing teams of this amount of talent. It’s hard to guard them all.”
The Cardinals scored more points on the fastbreak (8-0), in the paint (28-12) and on second chances (14-7). Though the Tigers outscored them 36-33 after halftime, the outcome was settled for the final 28 minutes.
“We had a little bit of a lull on offense, which has happened to us down the stretch,” Louisville coach Chris Mack said. “You sort of get that weird feeling, but I really think the story of the game was our ability to play with that much for 40 minutes.”
Clyde Trapp had 11 points for the Tigers, who shot just 34.4% and were outrebounded 41-29. They made 11 of a season-high 38 3-point attempts.
Clemson’s top scorers, forward Aamir Simms and guard Tevin Mack, combined to shoot 4 of 20 for just 10 points after entering with averages of 14.4 and 11.9 points per game, respectively. That included 0 for 8 from long range.
Louisville wore throwback uniforms from the 1974-75 Final Four squad that lost 75-74 in overtime to top-ranked and eventual NCAA champion UCLA. That team was honored at halftime.
Clemson: The Tigers missed seven consecutive shots during the frustrating 20-0 run and struggled to keep pace from there. The Cardinals’ 47 points were the most in a half by a Clemson opponent this season, surpassing the 39 posted by North Carolina two weeks ago.
Louisville: The Cardinals broke out of their month-long pattern of struggling to close out opponents at home with an energetic effort in all phases. Perry’s perimeter shooting was a welcome surprise and provided a good start offensively before others joined in from beyond the arc. They dominated the Tigers in nearly every other category, which hadn’t been easy for Louisville this month. Forward Dwayne Sutton had 11 rebounds, eight points and three assists.
Louisville’s lopsided victory could provide a boost into the top five.
Clemson hosts Syracuse on Tuesday night.
Louisville visits Boston College on Wednesday night.
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