A dominant day on the boards, including a career effort on the glass from senior forward Sydney Curry, lifted Louisville men’s basketball to its second straight win Saturday, a 61-55 victory over Florida A&M at the KFC Yum! Center.
Curry scored 13 points with a career-high 19 rebounds, the most by a Cardinal since Luke Whitehead’s 19 against Marquette on Jan. 31, 2004. Curry is one of nine players in the country to record at least 19 rebounds in a game this season.
“It felt good, coming in with a good mindset to just play hard,” Curry said. “When you play hard, everything else takes care of itself. It felt good to come in, win a good game, and get a good win.
“I’m definitely feeling that way and getting my confidence back.”
Curry’s effort was the spark to a commanding 45-31 advantage on the boards for Louisville (2-9), helping overcome 22 turnovers and 21 Florida A&M points off those miscues.
“First of all, I told the guys this: Don’t overlook any wins,” UofL head coach Kenny Payne said. “To win in college basketball is hard. The parity in this thing right now is ridiculous. That team (Florida A&M) has played every high-major program probably, and they’re looking to play more, so they’re not going to be afraid of you. They’re going to be aggressive. They’re going to play their style of basketball and try to come at you. When I watched them on film, I saw it against Florida and I saw it against Georgia, where it was a dogfight at times during the game. I knew they were going to come in here and be aggressive against us. I knew they wouldn’t be intimidated by us, and they got after it. Hats off to them. I’m glad that we responded in a sense, especially in the beginning of the second half.
“I wish we had finished better, but we’re learning. Again, we’re learning. At times, I would rather win and learn than lose and learn.”
Louisville led 12-3 early as Florida A&M went 1-for-16 from the field to start the game, but the Cardinals committed 12 first-half turnovers to keep the Rattlers in it.
UofL pushed the lead back out to 22-14 with 2:18to go in the half after a pair of free throws by sophomore forward Brandon Huntley-Hatfield. Florida A&M then scored the final six points of the frame to trim its deficit to 22-20 at the break.
The Cardinals opened the second half with an 8-0 run to build some separation, and later rattled off another 10-0 burst to take a 47-36 lead on a pair of free throws by freshman forward Kamari Lands at the 9:58 mark.
Florida A&M (2-7) drew back within two possessions in the final minutes, but Louisville controlled things with a 20-for-27 showing at the free-throw line.
Senior guard El Ellis tied Curry for the team high in scoring with 13 points and seven assists. Huntley-Hatfield added eight points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
Jordan Tillmon paced Florida A&M with 17 points.
The Cardinals will try to spark a three-game winning streak with their final non-conference home game, hosting Lipscomb at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday. The game will stream on ACC Network Extra.
“These past two games have been good for us to get these wins for our team and for us to feel good as a team,” Huntley-Hatfield said. “We still have a lot of room for improvement. We’re going to go back to practice and look at the film, try to correct those mistakes, and try to go on a winning streak.”