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Louisville survives scare, tops Albany 70-68

Christmas isn’t canceled.

Albany v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Louisville basketball team was one shot — or perhaps one whistle — away from being dealt its first devastating loss of the 2017-18 season.

With the Cardinals clinging to a 70-68 lead, Albany’s Devonte Campbell attempted a three-point shot that threatened to shut down Christmas in the Derby City. The shot found nothing but iron, and what appeared to be a foul on U of L’s Deng Adel was not called, allowing the Cards to escape with their ninth win of the season.

“I think I did,” Adel said after the game when he was asked whether or not he thought he got away with a foul.

Thankfully, the miss and the no call allowed us to see DJ K-Dogg keep his promise and play R. Kelly’s Gotham City to celebrate Louisville’s 4-0 performance in the Gotham Classic.

The win gave U of L its 29th all-time regular season tournament title.

For most of the evening, it looked like Louisville would capture that title with relative ease. The Cardinals kept Albany at arm’s length and led 59-50 at the game’s penultimate TV timeout. The Great Danes then reeled off a 15-2 run that threatened to put a significant damper on everyone’s holiday weekend.

Louisville answered the bell, as Ray Spalding scored back-to-back buckets and Ryan McMahon buried a three-pointer that seemed to put the game on ice. Instead, the Cardinals missed three of their final four free-throws (two by V.J. King and one by Darius Perry, his first miss of the season) to give Albany its shot at a monumental win.

A few quick thoughts and then the box score:

—We talked earlier this week on here about how defensive rebounding is going to kill this team if it doesn’t get better in that area quickly. If anything, Louisville took a step backwards in that department on Monday. Albany rebounded better than 40 percent of their missed shots, finishing with a whopping 21 on the night.

The Great Danes came into the game as one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, but do you know who’s even better? Kentucky. And do you know who’s even better than Kentucky on the offensive glass? Duke and Syracuse.

This has to get fixed or its absolutely going to be at the heart of multiple losses.

—Quentin having an apparent rib injury is no bueno. We saw how long it took Ryan McMahon to be fully back from his rib injury. Here’s hoping it’s minor.

—Speaking of Ryan, I had absolute faith that his last three was going down. A former coach of his once told me that McMahon “has balls as big as church bells.” Graphic, I know, but it’s funnier when you hear it in a Northeastern accent.

—Right now everyone is paying attention to North Carolina losing at home to Wofford, which is cool.

—Joe Cremo is a fantastic player. We did a really good job of making sure he wasn’t the guy who took either of their last two shots. In would have been cool if the second to last shot hadn’t been that wide open, but I guess you pick your battles.

—This team still has a long way to go, that’s obvious, but avoiding the catastrophic loss up to this point is still an accomplishment. They’ve come way closer than they should have a couple times, but as of right now there’s not a glaring defeat for the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee to hold against us in March. A month ago I wasn’t sure that was going to be the case.

Beat Grand Canyon, take your best shot against Kentucky, and then let’s see if we can get things to click at some point in conference play.

—Someone get me a Gotham Classic championship shirt.