Louisville looked like its best self for all of five minutes Wednesday night. Thankfully, that stretch was enough to lift the Cardinals to a 68-64 win over visiting Georgia Tech.
Four players finished in double figures for U of L, which for the moment sits alone atop the ACC standings with a 7-1 record. Steven Enoch and Malik Williams — whose free-throws in the closing seconds sealed the deal — each netted 13 points, while Jordan Nwora and David Johnson both scored 10.
The win was Louisville’s ninth straight over Georgia Tech, a program which hasn’t knocked off the Cards since 1997.
Louisville's active series winning streaks:— Kelly Dickey (@RealCardGame) January 23, 2020
15 - Virginia Tech
15 - Eastern Kentucky
12 - Bellarmine
11 - Georgetown College
11 - Kentucky Wesleyan
10 - DePaul
10 - Drake
10 - Murray State
10 - Rutgers
10 - Tampa
9 - Georgia Tech
9 - Louisiana-Lafayette
Let’s just be straight up here: This would have been a disappointing effort on any night, but it was especially discouraging after what we saw four nights ago in Durham. A win is a win, but there was nothing about Louisville’s performance Wednesday night that looked anything like “continuing the momentum from Duke” or “playing with a newfound edge.”
This feels like the eighth or ninth time this season we’ve said something along the lines of “maybe this team will realize now that it’s not good enough to just go through the motions and beat teams.” It isn’t. And if it doesn’t get that message eventually — whether that happens now or after seven more games like this — it could lead to a disappointing March that has all these guys talking about “if we’d only known” 20 years from now.
There were some positives. Malik Williams was a warrior inside, David Johnson once again looked like the next big thing to come through this program, Ryan McMahon was trying to light a fire under everyone the entire night, and the stretch where U of L appeared to have seized control for good was about as entertaining as any stretch of the season.
All that said, this did not feel like much of a step forward. Even so, these learning curve nights (or whatever you want to term them) are infinitely easier to deal with when they end with a win than they are when they end with a loss.