LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) -- Carlik Jones put on a show, Samuell Williamson snapped out of his funk and No. 16 Louisville extended its strong start in the Atlantic Coast Conference race by defeating Wake Forest (3-4, 0-4) 77-65 Wednesday night in Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, N.C..
The Cardinals improved to 4-0 in the ACC for the first time since they joined the league in 2015, and it marks the first time they have started 4-0 in conference play since they opened 4-0 in the Big East in 2008-09.
Jones collected his third double-double of the season with a season-high 23 points and 10 rebounds and came through with rally-killers every time Wake made a run at the Cards, who won their fifth straight.
Williamson, who had averaged just 7.8 points per game and shot only 35.0 percent in his previous five outings, also got a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards, his second of the year. Dre Davis scored 15 points and David Johnson dished out a career-best nine assists in just 26 foul-limited minutes while committing only one turnover.
"Everybody contributed for the most part," Mack said. "Carlik was really, really good, Sam really bounced back from his game against Virginia Tech and Dre was very active around the basket."
Williamson had managed just one point and three rebounds in the win over the Hokies on Saturday, but responded to a meeting with Mack the next day.
"Sam was frustrated with the way he was playing," Mack said. "I told him to focus on effort and not worry about the other things. He played a complete game. It was a big step up for him."
Louisville solved its problem with slow starts and added a strong finish too. The Cards used a 19-2 surge to race to a 21-9 lead. They were on top 46-34 at halftime and enjoyed their largest advantage at 50-34 90 seconds into the second half.
After Wake closed to within 53-52 with an 18-3 run, Jones' driving layup sparked a 17-5 burst for a 70-57 advantage that basically wrapped up the victory at the 3:50 mark. Jones had eight of the points, all on layups.
"We thought he could be a guy who could close games," Mack said of the Radford grad transfer. "He's so daggone crafty. He's one of the best guards in the country and he's starting to show that.
"Give Wake credit. They made some plays, got some juice, but we responded. It was very evident that a young team gave up some easy ones that allowed them to get back in the game. But anytime you can win on the road, you're happy."
UofL will gun for another road win on Saturday when it visits Miami before returning home for three consecutive games in the KFC Yum! Center.
MINLEND MAKES BRIEF DEBUT
Graduate transfer Charles Minlend, who has been sidelined with a knee injury since early November, made a brief appearance in the final minute of the game.
"He's been going full speed in practice, but I'd be lying if I said he was ready," Mack said. "I pulled him aside after the game and told him, 'You're not ready, but I'm not judging you on where you're at now. I'm not giving up on you.' Sometimes you have to sink before you swim. He's not the guy he was before the injury, but as each game goes by he'll get more comfortable. I want to extend his minutes, but not at a cost to the team. Give him time."
Russ Brown, a former sportswriter for The Courier-Journal and USA Today, covers University of Louisville sports and college football and basketball for Kentucky Today. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.