I’m not much of a traditionalist when it comes to social conventions. Yet, I find Sunday night college basketball games odd, somewhat off putting, out of place.
So, maybe that was why the Cardinals were without much energy when the game tipped at 6:00 p.m. on the Day of Rest.
Or, perhaps, the lethargy was some remnant of the loss a week ago Saturday. Or, just the eight day layoff.
Whatever, U of L came out flatter than a low profile Hankook after losing its battle with a pot hole in the Cochran Tunnel on 64
How flat were they?
They were flatter than the objet de desír of the IHOP $4.99 All You Can Eat Pancake Special.
Midway through the opening stanza, Louisville found itself -15 against the short-handed, 8-5 Hurricanes, visiting from Coral Gables. At 9:28, after a +1 by Ebuka Izundu, the scoreboard read Louisville 15, Miami 30.
There was no life on the court. There was no life in the stands.
At which point, Jordan Nwora said, “Enough is enough.”
Nine seconds later, he netted an aggressive, yet open three. Assist Ryan McMahon. A few moments later, Nwora converted a +1 on a nifty inbounds play. Assist Christen Cunningham. Followed by another trey off another assist by McMahon.
(Allow me to interrupt this recitation of the run that got the Cardinals back in the tilt and on their way to victory for a mea culpa. Several days back, after watching Chris Lykes ball, I opined that McMahon, given his lack of quickness, would not be a factor in this game. And that Khwan Fore would see significantly more action than usual to check the Canes’ lightning quick PG.
I was, uh, wrong. Before intermission, the Cards had 7 assists. McMahon had 6 of them, finishing with a team high 9 for the game. After going ofer the 1st half scoring wise, RM finished with 12 in 28 minutes of action. Meanwhile Fore was on the court for 13 minutes.)
Back to that run. Dwayne Sutton finished a +1. Then Nwora truly energized the joint with his one handed oop fast break highlight slam. Assist McMahon.
After that 14-2 blitzkrieg, the Cards were within three at 29-32.
Don’t bother knockin’, the house was rockin’.
With 3:50 left in the game, U of L had its biggest lead of 18 in the eventual +17 W. Meaning the Cardinals, once they found some mo and their mojo, were +33 in the 25 minute heart of the game.
The second half flurry of lefts and rights and uppercuts and haymakers commenced with 14;37 to play when CC drained a trey to knot the tilt at 50. Assist Ryan McMahon. Which Cunningham exclamation pointed with another bomb next trip down for the lead at 53-50.
Which advantage U of L never relinquished.
Which anschluss continued thanks to a couple of triples by McMahon. And a couple of assertive follows by VJ KIng.
All of which measure of the battle was secured by the Malik Williams interlude. Layup. Deuce. Threeball. Layup. On four consecutive trips down the court.
* * * * *
So, class, what did we learn?
Other than never to trust what I might offer as to how a game is going to be played out.
Well, it’s conference time. Thus every game is going to be tough. Especially if you’re not ready to play from tip.
That U of L still has potential left to reach. If VJ King can be aggressive every trip down the hardwood. If Darius Perry shakes the funk he’s in.
That good things happen if you have the opportunity to score every possession. Louisville had 7 turnovers in the first half. Louisville had 7 turnovers for the entire game. You don’t need an abacus to figure that out. Zero cough ups after intermission.
That good things happen when you hit the boards. -5 at the break, Louisville finished +4 on the glass.
That Jordan Nwora is maturing as a player. After igniting the Cards with 18 early, JN didn’t tally from 6:04 in the first until his next and final deuce with 10:00 to play. Yet he never forced anything at the offensive end.
That the Cards can prevail, even if their foe makes more FTs. Miami was 15/20, while U of L was 11/15.
* * * * *
Being a Denny Crum guy, I’m always leery of using too many timeouts before crunch time.
So, I wondered why Chris Mack “wasted” a timeout with 1:33 to play in the 1st, leaving himself only a couple to use in the 2d in what might have been a barnburner.
Louisville did not convert on the ensuing possession.
Then again, he knows what he’s doing a lot better than I do.
* * * * *
Next up: Road Trip. Steel City on Wednesday. Then Tobacco Road and a visit to DeanDome at High Noon Saturday.
-- Seedy K