It was about this time last month when Rick Pitino responded to a question about the next step in this team's evolution by saying that it had to get one or two of the newcomers to step up and become reliable contributors off the bench. It's a stride that certainly still has yet to be taken, as Louisville defeated Miami 63-55 Tuesday night despite just four Cardinals scoring.
Those four players were the same ones you'd expect, as Terry Rozier (22), Montrezl Harrell (18), Chris Jones (16), and Wayne Blackshear (7), put the team on their collective shoulders and withstood a solid second half rally from a game Hurricane squad.
As good as Harrell was at the beginning of the game, and as clutch as Blackshear's late basket and steal was, it was once again the Cardinal backcourt that stole the show in a road victory.
For a 14:02 stretch in the second half, Terry Rozier was the only Cardinal who scored a point. That said, it's hard to overlook the overall output from his counter part. Chris Jones had six of the team's nine steals (Rozier had the other three), he dished out five assists, and his eight rebounds were more than all three of the Louisville centers who played combined.
It was a bit of an odd evening all the way around, but beating a likely tournament team on the road by 8 in a game most oddsmakers and advanced statistics had you only winning by 3 or 4 is certainly an accomplishment worth celebrating.
It's also worth noting that the Cards are now halfway home in ACC play and sit just one game behind first-place Virginia. They have two games against the once-beaten Cavaliers, and host the only other time in the league with two losses (Notre Dame), which means technically, Louisville holds its ACC championship destiny in its own hands. Nine straight certainly feels like a pipedream, but at least it's a pipedream which would result in an ACC title.
More coming very shortly, but for now, stare at this super bizarre box score:
|Chinanu Onuaku, C||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||2||2||0||0||3||0||4||0|
|Wayne Blackshear, F||3-5||1-3||0-0||0||2||2||1||0||2||2||4||7|
|Montrezl Harrell, F||7-12||0-1||4-7||5||4||9||0||0||2||3||1||18|
|Terry Rozier, G||8-17||2-8||4-5||0||6||6||0||3||0||2||1||22|
|Chris Jones, G||5-11||1-3||5-6||1||7||8||5||6||0||3||3||16|
|Mangok Mathiang, F||0-2||0-0||0-0||2||2||4||1||0||0||1||3||0|
|Jaylen Johnson, F||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Anas Mahmoud, F||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Shaqquan Aaron, G||0-1||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Quentin Snider, G||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Miami (FL) Hurricanes|
|Tonye Jekiri, C||5-14||0-0||0-0||6||4||10||2||0||0||1||2||10|
|Joe Thomas, F||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Angel Rodriguez, G||2-9||0-3||2-2||0||1||1||1||0||0||2||5||6|
|Sheldon McClellan, G||2-5||0-1||2-2||0||2||2||0||2||0||1||1||6|
|Manu Lecomte, G||0-1||0-0||3-3||0||0||0||3||1||0||1||0||3|
|Omar Sherman, F||0-3||0-2||1-2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1|
|Ivan Cruz Uceda, F||1-4||1-3||1-2||1||3||4||0||2||1||2||0||4|
|Davon Reed, G||7-8||5-6||0-0||0||5||5||1||2||0||2||4||19|
|Ja'Quan Newton, G||0-5||0-2||3-4||0||1||1||1||0||0||2||0||3|
|James Palmer, G||1-4||0-2||1-2||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||2||3|
Technical Fouls: PLAYERS: None - TEAMS: None