It's taken me awhile to get any motivation to post after last Sunday. But did anyone else notice some eery parallels during the Michigan St. game that reminded you of other bad memories as a UofL fan?
1. Center hitting 3s: As Suton was going 3-3 from long range in the first half, everyone surely had one word in mind: Pittsnogle.
2. Banked 3: Ahh...Kalin Lucas' banked 3 at a clutch moment when they're up 6. Brought back memories of Patrick Beinlein banking the 3 in from the Lobo logo.
3. Botched Fast Break: I really got the eery feeling when MSU thwarted UofL's 3 on 1 fast break after Samardo's big block. Not only did Michigan St. interrupt the play, but they actually saved the ball. A true dagger. Remember 2003 vs. Butler? Reece Gaines had been money all season and he stole with ball with Garcia (I believe) way ahead. Reece threw the ball over the one single Butler defender, but the guy jumped up and made a heck of a play to steal the ball.
4. T-Will Alley-oop: I've always been surprised that T-Will doesn't get more alley-oops called for him. Obviously, the alley-oop that sticks in my mind is the one vs. Texas A&M (a loss). Unfortunately, my first thought when they ran that play vs. MSU was that the last similar time they ran that play was a loss.
In my opinion, you can hear all you want about Michigan St. "controlling the tempo" or "doing a masterful job to shut down T-Will" or "really listening to the brilliant gameplan by their brilliant coach Tom Izzo." To me, though, the bottom line is that they hit their shots. Let's face it, two UofL opponents have hit 50% from 3 all season and they were both losses (ND and MSU). Bottom line: that was the difference.
1. Think about it, UofL was an inch away from grabbing the game by the throat in the first half which is usually the time they pull away. Suton hit a 3 with 1 second left on the shot clock with PK in his face. Say he misses that and one of his other 3s and UofL has a 9 point lead at some point in the first half, T-Will likely plays the last 4 minutes of the half and it's a totally different ballgame. As a point of reference, Suton had hit two 3s in an entire game only 3 times all season. Of course he hits three 3s in the first half against the #1 overall seed.
2. Lucas' banked 3 was, ahem, the dagger. There's no other way around it. There's a biiiiig difference between being up 6 and up 9.
3. To me, though, the BIGGEST shot in the entire game was Lucas' rainbow 3 after UofL had grabbed a 36-34 lead. That had been the exact point in recent games when UofL steps on the opponent's throat and builds a double digit lead. When we came back against Nova and Syracuse, those shots for the opponent simply didn't go in. I am quite convinced that if he misses that shot, UofL has the ball and the lead 36-34 and wins going away.
I'm not trying to take any credit away from MSU -- they hit they hit the shots and played well. I'm just trying to point out what a mammoth difference a bank 3 here and a desperation 3 by the Center there does impact a game.
I don't know what it is about the Big 10 either. You watch their games and the scores are 38-33 and 52-49 yet someone they always play UofL well. My tally shows Pitino at 3-6 vs. the Big 10 at UofL including 0 for the last 5. That's an amazing statistic.