It may not have been biblical, but this win on the road, this conference win on the road, this conference win on the road against a Top 25 foe, this conference win on the road against a Top 25 foe with a 28 game homecourt winning streak, this win on the road against a Top 25 conference foe with a 28 game homecourt winning streak from 13 down at the half sure felt like Old Testament.
Especially during the seemingly interminable timeout with 2:34 to play, before which the Cards had carpe diemed the whole affair, doubling up the Seminoles 36-18 after intermission for a five point lead.
How long was that sphincter-tightening stoppage while some staff guys used to lacing pigskins were trying to fix the net on the home team’s goal? According to my timepiece, it was longer than the forty days and forty nights it took Moses to trundle down the Mount with 15, make that 10, Commandments, but not quite the forty years he and his fellow Hebrews wandered the desert.
Long enough for me to hit the head, hit the bowl of pistachios thrice, clean my glasses, empty the dishwasher, read “Moby Dick,” wonder nervously which team might benefit and which might suffer for the delay, and call my man Doc on the phone and bellow, “Isn’t there some sort of automatic forfeit for unplayable court or something?”
Not that I was nervous, understand?
Play finally resumed, and I invoked two incantations, two commandments that would be necessary were the Cards to prevail. Mr. Bunny’s “Do Not Relinquish The Lead.” The Bail’s simple but ever so axiomatic, “Be The Cardinals!”
And so it came to pass. But not without travail.
On the first possession, Florida State drained a second chance trey. 68-66.
Ryan McMahon, who would prove his mettle moments later, set up the finish with a stress inducing turnover.
Be the Cardinals, guys.
On the ensuing Seminole foray, Anas Mahmoud blocked two shots and snared the board. With an assist from Deng Adel, Ryan McMahon then went (your choice of descriptor) “String Music Tallahassee, Florida” or “Nothing but Net.” From “Downtown.” 71-66.
Eleven seconds later, State’s Braian Angola matched it. 71-69.
Anas Mahmoud then turned it over with :31 to play.
Come on fellas, do not relinquish the lead.
At which juncture, the Good Lord from the Good Book, who apparently was watching the tilt with his pal Naismithius, the Greek God of Hoops, looked at him and each nodded, winked, and enjoined John Higgins from blowing the whistle when Mahmoud “blocked” Terance Mann’s layup attempt at :10.
McMahon grabbed the bouncing rebound and was fouled.
Adhering to the spirit force of the Two Arts, he made the first, then the second.
* * * * *
At least a word or two of heartfelt praise for the effort and performance of Deng Adel.
It’s the least I can do for myself and on behalf of other Cardinal fans who have been, let us say, displeased with his efforts so far.
The kid came to play. The kid played.
He was strong from the start. Which I’ll say even though Florida State tallied the tilt’s first 9 points. Because Adel was all over the bounceback. He canned two jumpers and a FT. After a steal, he presented a nifty feed to Mahmoud to knot the score at 11. Then had a marvelous assist to Q to pull the Cards to 16-17.
Again early in the 2d, after another less than stellar Cardinal start, Adel was the catalyst. While U of L was stopping the Seminoles with solid D, he scored six in a row to cut the disadvantage to 40-48.
Louisville was relentless the rest of the way. Adel netted a trey for the first tie at 55. State pulled ahead for a bit, but the Cardinals kept coming.
Deng Adel finished with 16 points, including 5/6 at the line. Six rebounds. Five assists. A block and a steal.
Keep it up, dude.
* * * * *
After VJ King, who once again just didn’t seem to be in the flow, missed an ill advised three at the 7:35 mark, I jotted down “Why not Sutton for King?”
Seconds later, David Padgett, who, despite the fact he’s less than half my age knows a lot more hoops, inserted Ryan McMahon for King. (Padgett coached his best game so far. That substitution wasn’t his only astute move. He mixed up his Ds. Called some great sets, which the players actually ran.)
McMahon was everywhere, a key to the victory.
King never returned.
+/- is a somewhat skewed statistic. Especially in a one game situation. It’s more salient over a period of time. Nevertheless, it was a telling stat last night.
Only two Cardinals had minus numbers. One was Ray Spalding, who gave his all (15 points, 6 boards, 2 blocks, 2 steals, an assist and zero turnovers). He just happened to be getting a blow during one of the Cards’ late surges. So his -1 is an aberration.
The other negative number belonged to VJ King. Minus 12.
Other than a four minute segment in the 1st, when he displayed his potential, and tallied all 7 of his points and grabbed most of his rebounds, King wasn’t in sync.
How the Sutton/ McMahon/King rotation plays out shall be interesting to see.
* * * * *
All of which hyperbole notwithstanding, the win was HUGE. Hugely huge.
The Cardinals earned this W. It would have been a shame, and a possible season breaker, had they not prevailed after that gritty effort. They suffered a 5:21 drought near the end of the 1st, when they were outscored 0-13. Yet still came out after the break with energy and winning resolve. When it mattered U of L hit 5 of its final 7 FG attempts.
Next: Virginia Tech. Saturday.
And, don’t forget, the womens’ team plays its biggest game yet this season tonight. Notre Dame visits the Yum!.
-- Seedy K