LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) -- Talk about role reversal.
In their Atlantic Coast Conference matchup Saturday afternoon in the KFC Yum! Center, the University of Louisville was supposed to exploit its superior size inside while Virginia Tech figured to attack from the perimeter as usual.
Instead, the Cardinals (13-4, 3-1) suddenly found became long-range bombers to defeat the Hokies (13-5, 2-3) 94-86 in an entertaining, fast-paced game that featured 17 lead changes and 10 ties.
The Cards, who were outscored in the paint, 40-28, entered the game as one of the ACC's worst long-distance teams, shooting just 31 percent from beyond the arc - and 24.9 percent in their last five games (24-99). But they uncharacteristically drilled 13-of-23 3-pointers (56.5 percent) while holding Virginia Tech - which was in the top-25 nationally in 3-point shooting - to 8-of-22 (36.4 percent). That was nine fewer than the Hokies made here last year in a 94-90 loss. The Cards extended their defense to make sure that didn't happen again, but gave up points inside in the process.
"You've got to pick your poison against them," U of L interim coach David Padgett said.
UofL's 3-pointers were its most since it hit 14 against Memphis a month ago, the only other time this season it had reached double-figures in that category.
"We did a great job on offense, shared the ball, shot the ball well," Padgett said. "We stayed patient. We put the ball in the paint, kicked it out, drove again and kicked it out again. That's where we got good looks. We're sharing the ball really well right now.
"For whatever reason, the last couple of years whenever we've played this team we've had to beat them with offense. They're an incredibly potent offensive team. Our goal was to hold them under double-figure threes, which we did, but then they scored 40 in the paint by driving."
No one was hotter for Louisville than junior forward Deng Adel, even though the Hokies were probably willing to give him the outside shot considering he was shooting only 29.7 percent from 3-point land (19-64), including 4-of-24 in his last six outings.
Adel hit 4-of-6 trifectas while scoring a career-high 27 points and getting a season-best 11 rebounds for his third career double-double. His previous career-high was 22 points against Wake Forest last March. He hit 10-of-15 shots overall and also had three assists.
“A lot of it is seeing what the defense does,” Adel said. “If they back off, then I have to take that shot, because they’re not going to respect the jump shot. But a lot of it is just reading the plays and reading the pick-and-rolls and, if your teammate is open, just making the right basketball plays."
Padgett said Adel "played very, very well,"
Adel scored seven straight points during a late stretch that put UofL in front to stay and then made two big defensive plays. First, he hit a 3-pointer for a 74-72 lead with 5:48 remaining, followed by a close-in, one-handed shot.
After that, he grabbed a key defensive rebound and blocked a shot by John Robinson, who tied Kerry Blackshear Jr. for Virginia Tech scoring honors with 19 points. Then Ray Spalding and Ryan McMahon combined for the next seven points.
Quentin Snider hit a trio of 3-pointers and finished with 19 points and V.J. King (16 points) and McMahon (10) each went 2-for-3 behind the arc.
Louisville also had 11 steals and converted 19 Hokie turnovers into 20 points.
Spalding had played well recently and avoided the early foul trouble that has plagued him off and on this season. But he regressed Saturday, again picking up early fouls that limited him to 16 minutes. Still, he managed six points, five rebounds and four blocks.
Next up, the Cards will head to South Bend, Ind., for a Tuesday night ESPN2 battle with No. 25 Notre Dame for their third road game against a ranked ACC club. U of L hasn't won at Notre Dame since 1994.
Russ Brown, a former sportswriter for The Courier-Journal and USA Today, covers University of Louisville sports for Kentucky Today. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.