We certainly needed that one. Chris Mack got his first signature win as the Louisville head coach on Tuesday night when the Cards knocked off top 10 Michigan State in overtime 82-78. Louisville was in control for most of the game, but the Spartans fought back and forced an extra five minutes in this one. You started to wonder if this was another one that Louisville would let slip away, but they showed toughness and hit the reset button in overtime and came out with the victory. Here are some quick observations, followed by film review.
-Well, Ryan McMahon was awesome. A career high 24 points and knocked down four three-pointers. He was also 12-13 from the free throw line, which was huge. He hit some key ones down the stretch. He looked very comfortable in the big moment.
-V.J. King was…not so awesome. 0 points, 0 assists, 2 rebounds in 14 minutes. But you know what? I saw he and Darius Perry still standing and cheering on their teammates late in the game and in overtime. They stayed engaged and didn’t let it stop them from being good teammates. I liked that. Give me the win and hopefully V.J. starts to figure something out to help this team.
-I have said it all along, but I really like Christen Cunningham, and I think others are jumping on board too. I don’t need all of the points or flashy plays from my point guard. Give me someone that will run the show and not make big mistakes. He is that. He plays with so much poise and control.
-Steven Enoch…I loved you early on. Still waiting for you to come back. I will welcome you with open arms. Please come back.
-Akoy Agau has been a pleasant surprise. If nothing else, he is going to give you all that he has, and you have to appreciate that. Even if all he has is 5 fouls, which he gave all of them in 10 minutes. He gets rebounds and usually draws fouls on the opposing big man, so those are positives. He is also the first to get everyone together for a quick huddle on the court. His leadership is something that may go overlooked, but not by me.
-File the Chris Mack shimmy right there with winning National Championships. It was glorious.
-Kwahn Fore still plays the kind of defense that I never want to see if I am on the court and he is on the other team. Dude is a beast.
-Jordan Nwora and Dwayne Sutton both turned in solid games and played nearly 40 minutes each. I like Jordan’s nine rebounds. I don’t like the four turnovers.
-It was great to see this team close the deal and win a big game. They could have won it in regulation, sure. But Michigan State missed free throws and had a crucial turnover at the end as well. Even the good teams have lapses. Louisville also could have sulked because they let it get away in regulation, but they didn’t. They treated overtime like a fresh start, and they toughed their way to a win. This team grew up on Tuesday night.
Not too much that is super in depth here, just some plays that stood out to me. Malik Williams and his defense always seem to find a way on this, but he does have a positive moment in this at least.
Starting out simple. Jordan Nwora comes off the screen and the defense switches, but his man has his hands down. Can’t do that on a shooter. Quick release by Jordan. pic.twitter.com/d85Jd8rKGK— Justin Renck (@JustinRenck) November 28, 2018
Here is Malik Williams doing the defensive work beforehand. He gets around his man and doesn’t play behind him. Gets the deflection that leads to a big three at the other end, plus an upset Michigan State assistant coach. pic.twitter.com/Spd3hRs1VD— Justin Renck (@JustinRenck) November 28, 2018
Malik Williams again, this time not so good. He has done this before this year. He comes out way too far to hedge the screen and makes it easy for the ball handler to split. Leads to a foul on his teammate, but this starts with Malik. pic.twitter.com/BzJ6bnKIDn— Justin Renck (@JustinRenck) November 28, 2018
This is why it was a big play when Malik Williams got around his man and didn’t play behind him. This is too easy. pic.twitter.com/pUl1YAPSph— Justin Renck (@JustinRenck) November 28, 2018
May not seem like a big deal, but you always want someone in the corner in case you drive baseline and have to kick it out that way. This bails out Darius Perry. If Sutton isn’t there, it probably ends up being a turnover. Balance the floor. pic.twitter.com/PF8yxBgrtT— Justin Renck (@JustinRenck) November 28, 2018
Jordan Nwora gets the points, the big shot, and the cheer from the crowd. Christen Cunningham makes this play. It’s as simple as beating your man off the dribble and making the help move over. Leaves a shooter wide open. pic.twitter.com/GyRrW17oYB— Justin Renck (@JustinRenck) November 28, 2018
Malik Williams sets a back screen and his man doesn’t help...at all. Leads to an easy lay up. Defender has to drop a little and help, but he may be stuck on Malik because that’s a big man that can shoot. So that changes how he is defended. pic.twitter.com/2o1YSZTggJ— Justin Renck (@JustinRenck) November 28, 2018