Topping Deng Adel’s happiness in hitting shots when Louisville needed them was his satisfaction making timely defensive contributions that helped the Cardinals earn another hard-fought victory.
Adel had a career-high 27 points, scoring seven consecutive during a critical second-half stretch that put the Cardinals ahead, and made two big defensive plays late that helped them beat Virginia Tech 94-86 on Saturday.
The junior forward’s 3-pointer with 5:28 remaining gave Louisville a 74-72 lead before he added two free throws and a one-handed basket to make it 80-76. Adel then grabbed a key defensive rebound before blocking Justin Robinson’s shot, followed by another big rebound to finish with a season-high 11 boards.
“If you want to be a great player, you gotta do it on both ends,” said Adel, who made 10 of 15 from the field to top last season’s previous high of 22 points against Wake Forest.
“I just made sure to not give up, not give them an easy layup or an easy rebound and just continue to play as a team.”
Louisville teammates weren’t shocked by the breakout performance its leading scorer had been building toward all season. It was certainly necessary in an entertaining back-and-forth game featuring 17 lead changes and 10 ties.