Louisville’s All-American played like an All-American, and the Cardinals’ most recent McDonald’s All-American played like a recent McDonald’s All-American. That was (barely) enough for U of L to outlast an exhibition scare from Bellarmine Tuesday night inside the KFC Yum Center.
Jordan Nwora scored 28 points and Louisville scored the final nine points of the game to outlast the upset-minded Knights, 75-65. Silky smooth freshman Samuell Williamson lived up to the hype in his first game action as a Cardinal, chipping in 17 points and nine rebounds.
In a game where U of L would ordinarily rely on its height advantage against their undersized Division-II visitors, the Cardinals had to get things done without the services of injured centers Steven Enoch and Malik Williams. Dwayne Sutton played the role of small five beautifully, grinding his way to 18 points and 12 boards.
Male High product Alex Cook scored 20 points to lead the way for Bellarmine, which had some significant success (too much success) beating U of L defenders off the bounce and getting all the way to the rim.
Louisville’s win was its 37th consecutive in exhibition, and also improved the program’s all-time record against Bellarmine to 13-0. With the Knights making the move to Division-I next season, U of L will no longer be allowed to face them in exhibition play.
Here’s the final box score:
The defense was discouraging, the freshmen outside of Williamson looked unready, but I don’t think this is anything close to cause for major concern. Assuming Steven Enoch’s injury isn’t a long-term deal, I don’t expect the Cards to struggle in November any more than I did coming into tonight.
Williamson’s absolutely the real deal, so is the hype about Darius Perry’s improvement. You know what you’re getting from Nwora and Sutton, and you know that shooting nights like this from Ryan McMahon are going to be few and far between. Depth right now is certainly more of a concern than we thought it was going to be — no one coming off the bench was impressive — but the hope is obviously that the return of Enoch, Williams and David Johnson will alleviate that.
We learned some stuff, we got a lesson in humility, and we achieved both without a national embarrassment. Bring on Miami.