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Durham, N.C. — Louisville’s big lead was all but gone, leaving the 11th-ranked Cardinals clinging to a slim margin while the fans packed into Duke’s famously hostile home arena were roaring at ear-ringing levels.

Chris Mack’s squad proved they were tough enough to punch back in those critical moments to secure a huge win against a fellow Atlantic Coast Conference heavyweight.

Freshman David Johnson had a season-high 19 points and the Cardinals hung on down the stretch to beat No. 3 Duke 79-73 on Saturday night, winning a key matchup in the league’s regular-season title chase.

“We never got rattled,” said Malik Williams, who had 12 points and a couple of big late-game plays. “Things got tough for us, they tied the game, we kept playing, kept fighting.”

“Fighting” is probably a good word for it, too. It was a physical game with plenty of players bumping each other to the floor and powering into the paint through contact, one that left DUuke coach Mike Krzyzewski calling it “the most physical game we’ve been involved with in years, really.”

“The term of freedom of movement was not alive and well tonight,” Krzyzewski said, adding: “They played great, I don’t want it to take away from them.”

The Cardinals – who improbably blew a 23-point lead in the final 10 minutes of a home loss to Duke last year – hung on despite finding themselves in a tight finish after leading by 15 in the first half and 10 at halftime.

Leading 71-70, Louisville (15-3, 6-1 ACC) got two free throws from Dwayne Sutton with 3:11 remaining and then got five consecutive defensive stops during the critical game-clinching sequence. That included a missed drive and an airballed 3-pointer from Duke freshman Cassius Stanley, who was otherwise was the best player on the floor for either team on the way to season highs of 24 points and 11 rebounds.

Williams added two free throws with 16 seconds left to make it 75-70 and followed immediately with a transition dunk off a turnover. It was a sequence that all but ensured the Cardinals would claim the only regular-season meeting between the teams, not to mention put themselves in a tie with No. 9 Florida State atop the league standings.

“If you’re going to win here, especially with them coming off a loss, you’re going to have to figure out a way to be the tougher team for 40 minutes,” Mack said.

By those final seconds, the Cardinals had done just that, even allowing Sutton to tell Duke’s “Cameron Crazies” to “Go home” as Louisville began its celebration.

The Blue Devils (15-3, 5-2) shot 37% for the game and made only 6 of 25 3-pointers. The struggles included freshman big man Vernon Carey Jr. finishing with just 12 points after sitting a long stretch of the second half with four fouls.

“We got hit first,” Stanley said. “But I think we responded very well. But when you get hit first like that, it’s a lot to get back.”

More Top 25

(At) No. 1 Gonzaga 92, BYU 69: Killian Tillie had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 1 Gonzaga beat BYU for its 12th consecutive win.

The Zags (20-1, 6-0 West Coast) stretched their home win streak to 34 in a row, tops in the county.

Gonzaga closed out its sixth consecutive win against BYU without leading scorer Filip Petrusev, who went down hard early in the second half and was helped off the floor with what appeared to be a leg injury.

T.J. Haws scored 17 points and Jake Toolson had 16 for BYU (14-6, 3-2).

The Cougars played without leading scorer and rebounder Yoeli Childs, who has missed four games with a finger injury.

No. 2 Baylor 75, (at) Oklahoma State 68: Freddie Gillespie and Jared Butler each scored 17 points, and No. 2 Baylor beat Oklahoma State for its 14th straight victory.

Baylor (15-1, 5-0 Big 12) overcame a 12-point deficit in the last 14 minutes. Devonte Bandoo scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half.

Oklahoma State has lost five in a row. Isaac Likekele had 16 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four steals for the Cowboys (9-8, 0-5). Cameron McGriff also scored 16 points.

(At) Florida 69, No. 4 Auburn 47: Florida’s Omar Payne had the best game of his college career, finishing with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Payne, a freshman from Kissimmee, was widely considered an afterthought in Florida’s highly touted recruiting class. Against the Tigers, he looked like a future lottery pick.

The 6-foot-10 forward dominated in the paint, scoring on tip-ins, putbacks and layups, and creating a mismatch nightmare for Auburn (15-2, 3-2 Southeastern Conference). His three-point play put Florida (12-5, 4-1) up by 14 with a little more than 4 minutes to play.

Danjel Purifoy was the only player in double figures for Auburn, which shot 25.5% from the field. He had 10 points.

(At) DePaul 79, No. 5 Butler 66: Paul Reed scored 23 points on 8 of 9 shooting, leading DePaul to the victory. The Blue Demons (13-5, 1-4 Big East) knocked off a top-five team for the first time since beating No. 5 Kansas on Dec. 2, 2006. Jalen Coleman-Lands scored 20 points, and freshman Romeo Weems finished with 11.

Butler (15-3, 3-2) trailed by double digits for the entire second half of its second straight loss. Kamar Baldwin led the Bulldogs with 16 points, and Jordan Tucker had 13.

No. 6 Kansas 66, (at) Texas 57: Devon Dotson returned from a hip injury to score 21 points, including the final seven of the game for Kansas.

Dotson made a long 3-pointer with 2:49 to play, then closed out the victory with four straight free throws in the final 39 seconds.

Udoka Azubuike scored 17 points for Kansas (14-3, 4-1 Big 12), which closed the game with a 12-3 run.

Jericho Sims scored 20 points for the Longhorns (12-5, 2-3).

(At) No. 7 San Diego State 68, Nevada 55: Yanni Wetzell had 17 points and a career-high 16 rebounds for San Diego State, which came out hot in the second half to remain the nation’s only undefeated team.

Malachi Flynn scored 14 points for San Diego State (19-0, 8-0 Mountain West), and Jordan Schakel had 12.

The Aztecs pulled within one of the best opening streak in school history, a 20-0 run led by Kawhi Leonard in 2010-11. That team reached the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history and finished a school-best 34-3.

Jalen Harris scored 19 points for Nevada (11-8, 4-3). The Wolf Pack shot 14.7% in the second half and 28.1% for the game.

No. 8 Oregon 64, (at) Washington 61, OT: Payton Pritchard hit his sixth 3-pointer of the game with 3.4 seconds left in overtime, lifting Oregon to the victory.

The Ducks (15-4, 4-2 Pac-12) avoided being swept on their trip north by rallying from a 48-32 deficit with 10:22 remaining in the second half. They handed Washington (12-7, 2-4) its third loss in four games.

Pritchard finished with 22 points on 7 of 16 shooting. Chandler Lawson added 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Ducks, who rebounded from an ugly loss to Washington State on Thursday.

Isaiah Stewart led Washington with 25 points and 19 rebounds.

No. 9 Florida State 83, (at) Miami 79, OT: Florida State forced 24 turnovers, including three in a row in overtime, and rallied from a nine-point deficit in the final 4:33 of regulation to earn their ninth consecutive victory.

Sophomore Devin Vassell set a career high for the second consecutive game by leading Florida State with 23 points while adding 11 rebounds and five assists. His two free throws with six seconds left sealed the win.

M.J. Walker had 19 points for the Seminoles (16-2, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference).

Chris Lykes scored 24 points for the Hurricanes (10-7, 2-5). But Lykes also had six turnovers.

No. 10 Kentucky 73, (at) Arkansas 66: Kentucky kept its composure after coach John Calipari was ejected, holding off Arkansas for the road win.

Nick Richards had 17 points and nine rebounds, leading a balanced effort for the Wildcats (13-4, 4-1 Southeastern Conference).

Mason Jones scored 19 points for Arkansas (14-3, 3-2), which has dropped nine straight in the series.

The game was tied at 44 with 8:19 left in the second half when Calipari became upset after forward EJ Montgomery was whistled for an offensive foul for an illegal screen. He received two technical fouls as the crowd cheered wildly.

Jones then made three free throws to give the Razorbacks their first lead since the opening minutes. But the Wildcats stepped up their defensive effort and put together a 17-2 run.

(At) Kansas State 84, No. 12 West Virginia 68: Cartier Diarra scored 25 points and Xavier Sneed had 16, leading Kansas State to its first Big 12 win this season.

DaJuan Gordon scored a career-high 15 points for the Wildcats (8-9, 1-4), who shot 59% (29 for 49) from the field and led by as many as 23.

West Virginia (14-3, 3-2) committed 18 turnovers. Miles McBride and Chase Harler each scored 11 points, and Gabe Osabuohein had 10.

(At) No. 14 Villanova 61, Connecticut 55: Jermaine Samuels scored 19 points, powering Villanova ahead for good in a 61-55 win over Connecticut on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center.

Samuels converted a three-point play with 2:51 left for a 52-51 lead and then buried a 3 with 31 seconds remaining for a four-point lead that clinched another tight one for the Wildcats (14-3).

The Huskies (10-7) kept it close against their pending Big East rival and attacked the paint with authority to offset a miserable effort from 3-point range (2 of 15). Christian Vital fought through the lane and tossed in a layup that brought the Huskies within two with 24 seconds left. But a full-court press on Villanova came up empty and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl sank two free throws to secure the Wildcats’ 10th win in 11 games.

Collin Gillespie scored 12 points and Villanova made 11 of 23 3-pointers.

Vital led the Huskies with 13 points and eight rebounds.

Houston 65, (at) No. 16 Wichita State 54: Fabian White scored 14 points as Houston used a balanced offense to beat No. 16 Wichita State.

Houston (14-4, 4-1 American) built a 49-27 second-half lead and is tied with Tulsa atop the American Athletic Conference standings.

Wichita State (15-3, 3-2 American) lost its second straight game and managed just one player scoring in double figures, Tyson Etienne with 10.

DeJon Jarreau had 12 points and a game-high 10 rebounds for the Cougars, while teammates Marcus Sasser and Quentin Grimes scored 10 each.

No. 18 Seton Hall 82, (at) St. John’s 79: Myles Powell scored 23 of his 29 points in the second half, and Seton Hall extended its winning streak to eight games.

Quincy McKnight added 20 points and 7-foot-2 Romaro Gill had 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks for the Pirates (14-4, 6-0 Big East). Myles Cale scored 12.

Mustapha Heron scored 18 for the Red Storm (12-7, 1-5), and Josh Roberts had 16 points and eight rebounds.

With a fast-break layup early in the second half, Powell became the fifth Seton Hall player to reach 2,000 career points, joining Terry Dehere, Nick Werkman, Jeremy Hazell and Greg Tynes.

(At) Arizona 75, No. 20 Colorado 54: Dylan Smith and Josh Green each scored 13 points, and Arizona cruised to the victory.

Nico Mannion and Zeke Nnaji added 12 points apiece for Arizona (13-5, 3-2 Pac-12), which has won all three of its home conference games. The Wildcats had a double-digit lead for the last 18 minutes, stopping the brief Colorado rallies with quick baskets.

McKinley Wright led Colorado (14-4, 3-2) with 15 points, and D’Shawn Schwartz added 12.

(At) No. 23 Texas Tech 72, Iowa State 52: Kyler Edwards had 22 points coming off the highest-scoring game of his career, and Texas Tech pulled away for the victory.

The sophomore was 5 of 6 from 3-point range, making two during an 18-2 second-half run, after scoring 24 points in a victory at Kansas State that stopped a two-game skid.

Davide Moretti had 17 points for the Red Raiders (12-5, 3-2 Big 12).

The Cyclones (8-9, 1-4) missed their first 15 attempts from 3-point range and finished 3 of 22. Iowa State, second in the Big 12 in points per game coming in, was held to 55 or fewer points for the third time in five league games.

(At) No. 25 Creighton 78, Providence 74: Marcus Zegarowski hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left, sending Creighton to the victory. Ty-Shon Alexander had 24 points for the Bluejays (14-5, 3-3 Big East).

Providence’s David Duke scored 24 of his career-high 36 points in the second half. The Friars (11-8, 4-2) shot 39% (25 for 64) from the field.

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