LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Louisville's defensive pressure and partisan crowd of 22,784 stunned No. 14 Ohio State before the Buckeyes regrouped with a second-half rally that put the No. 5 Cardinals and their fans on edge in the final minute.
The Buckeyes cut a 19-point, second-half deficit to 56-53 but couldn't stop Cardinals guard Terry Rozier from hitting a big 3-pointer from the top of the key with 46 seconds left that keyed Tuesday night's 64-55 loss in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
The near-comeback left the Buckeyes wondering what might have been had they not let the atmosphere of their first road test overwhelm them.
"We allowed the crowd to take us out of the game," Buckeyes senior forward Sam Thompson said. "We allowed the stage to take us out of the game. We weren't thinking like we need to think in a game like this. When that happens against a good team, you see what happens. We get down 20."
Ohio State (5-1) got the pressure it expected from Louisville (6-0), which held the Buckeyes to 23 percent shooting in the first half and 30 percent overall. They were much better in the second half (37 percent), but those first 20 minutes dug a 35-18 hole that proved too deep to climb out.
"We tried to simulate their pressure in practice, which we didn't do a very good job of," said Buckeyes assistant Dave Dickerson. "Their offensive rebounding was as good as we've seen."
Dickerson also lamented the Buckeyes' lack of defensive rebounds, which he said took them out of what they do well: transition scoring and early offensive opportunities.
In spite of everything, the Buckeyes still had chances thanks to D'Angelo Russell, who scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half. He also had all seven Ohio State assists and made four straight free throws to draw within 56-53 before Rozier's 3-pointer made it a two-possession game.
Rozier, Anas Mahmoud and Montrezl Harrell each added a free throw in the final minute before Wayne Blackshear sealed it with two free throws with five seconds left. Blackshear finished with 22 points including four 3-pointers.
Harrrell had 13 points and 10 rebounds for Louisville, which shot just 35 percent.
Marc Loving added 13 points for Ohio State but fouled out with seven minutes left.
Dickerson spoke after the game in place of coach Thad Matta, who comforted forward Anthony Lee after being told following the game that his grandmother had died earlier in the day.
Tuesday night's 9:30 tipoff figures to be the latest for both programs until tournament time, but for Louisville it marks the first of four games this season with 9 p.m. starts. In fact, the Cardinals face Indiana at 9 p.m. on Tuesday at the Jimmy V Classic in New York.
Louisville also has late starts next month in ACC play against Clemson and at Boston College. Ohio State has it somewhat easier, playing a late game at Minnesota on Jan. 6.
Ohio State: Scott had zero assists in 22 minutes after entering the game as the nation's leader with 10.4 per contest. He sat most of the final eight minutes.
Louisville: The Cardinals face their third and final Big Ten opponent with Indiana on Tuesday in New York.
Ohio State: Hosts Colgate on Saturday.
Louisville: Hosts Florida International on Friday.