Given the manner of U of L’s 77-57 W over NC State in Raleigh, I’m thinking of a conversation in a thread recently among the commentariat at cardchronicle.com, where I post these game recap communiqués in tandem with my own site, seedyksports.com.
It was during a period when Ryan McMahon hadn’t been a major contributor for several games in a row, spending more time on the pine while David Johnson was emerging.
I offered that, though he’ll always provide a mature, steadying presence on and off the court, as Chris Mack underscored during his postgame comments Saturday, the nature of McMahon’s game and his talents are such that he can’t be depended upon consistently game in and game out on the hardwood.
But . . . and it’s a significant and joyous but . . . there will be times, I offered, when he’ll come in and change a game midcourse with his shooting.
I was upset that I hadn’t used a term later thought of for such interludes, but wrote it down to use when appropriate.
Ladies and gentlemen, what we witnessed against State was the McFlurry.
Which haunting game changing interlude shall be causing Wolfpack nightmares for awhile.
* * * * *
But first the set up, how U of L’s woeful play for the game’s first fifteen minutes or so set the stage for Dickie V’s favorite Cardinal put his imprimatur on the game.
At the first media timeout, Louisville had already coughed up 5 turnovers. They had also committed 5 personal fouls, including a couple by Darius Perry on the same possession.
The Cardinals, up 11-10, but whose focus was as gray as their unis, had given it away thrice more by the next media timeout. Meanwhile State was already in the Bonus.
The Wolfpack’s woeful marksmanship early on allowed U of L to stay in it, despite a lack of focus and propensity to give it away. Also there were two isolated McMahon triples, the first to push U of L ahead 7-5 on a fastbreak, the next to push the Cards up 14-11.
At the 6:45 media break, Louisville was down 19-21, thanks to 3 more Cardinal turnovers, making it 11. Also U of L was -7 at the FT line, having committed 10 fouls to State’s 3. (It was due to Cards’ leaden D, not any homer bias by Ted Valentine and his buds in stripes.)
Then the McFlurry:
McMahon from the corner on an inbounds play. 22-21. Assist Sam Williamson.
A mere thirty one seconds later, McMahon again from out on Tobacco Road (if there really is such a named byway.) Assist Fresh Kimble. 25-21.
After a couple of empty possessions, but also a couple of stops thanks to tightening D, McMahon again from beyond the arc at 4:23. Assist again Kimble. 28-21.
Then, ho hum, his sixth in six attempts at 3:20. Assist Jordan Nwora. 31-21.
You know how at DQ and McD’s, they hold those ice cream treats upside down to show you how solid they are. Well, at that point, McMahon was so zoned in, he could have netted one with U of L’s two bigs holding him upside down.
McMahon’s McFlurry had pulled the Cards out of the quicksand. (To mash up two totally unconnected visions.)
David Johnson found Steven Enoch for an alley oop, to complete a 14-0 run, pushing U of L up 33-21.
McMahon, or as some are sure to now call him after Saturday afternoon, Mc$$$$$$$, finished with 23.
Yet, ever the contrarian, I’d offer that two equally important plays, at least the ones displaying the most leadership, came when he hit the floor. Literally.
On the possession after State had scored 5 points on one trip to pull within 7 at 39-46, McMahon lost his dribble, making a turnover and game shift imminent. But the 5th year senior dove on the floor, secured the rock and possession, which ended with Nwora deuce.
He did it again — lost ball, retrieval — with a bit over four minutes left to stave off any thoughts State had at a final thrust.
Point: He wasn’t just shooting it well. He was everywhere.
Oh yeah, I failed to mention that the seventh of his bombs, one that pushed the lead back to double digits with 10:03 left. McMahon had the ball free on a break, started toward the hoop, then step step stepped back beyond the arc.
Yes, there was his running one handed scoop de doop off the glass for two.
So, to answer the phenomenological query from P-Funk All-Stars’ George Clinton, “Yeah, fries come with that shake.”
* * * * *
It was just sort of a strange twenty point league victory on the road against a North Carolina State team — 14-7 at tip — said to still be on the bubble for the Dance.
Jordan Nwora couldn’t find his eye from the field. 3/13. But hit the boards with 9, tying Steven Enoch for team high. And pushing the rock to the hoop, JN got fouled, and was 8/8 at the charity stripe.
Fresh Kimble gave it away 5 times, but was as steady as one can be with that many mistakes. 5 assists. 4 rebounds. Ten points on 4/5 shooting including a trey on a possession when he dribble dribble dribbled so much, I screamed at my 55” LGC8, “Pass the fucking ball.”
I thought it interesting that Mack kept him running the point down the stretch. Instead of Johnson, who had 8 points and a couple of assists in only 14 minutes of action.
Malik Williams just couldn’t seem to snare a rebound, but played his usual tough D, scored several key tough buckets late. Including a three, on an assist from Williamson, to push U of L ahead 54-45.
Dwayne Sutton was out of sorts the entire afternoon. Yet . . . he made a seriously key play at crunch time. A 7-0 State push midway through the 2d cut the Cards lead to 56-52. Within seconds, Sutton drove it to the hoop for a deuce on the fly in the paint to stop the Wolfpack mo’, and any thoughts the home team had for victory.
That two was the beginning of Louisville’s 21-5 run to Finish.
Again, on the road, Louisville won a conference game they were supposed to win. Won an away conference tilt by 20, when they were 3 1/2 point favorites. Won big when really not playing very well.
Though the Cardinals turned it over 11 times in the game’s first 13:15, they only gave it up 7 times the rest of the way.
The Cards were 11/20 from the burbs. In their last nine outings, U of L has made 81 of 181 attempts from beyond the arc. 44.7%.
Now 19-3, 10-1 and undefeated on the road in the league, U of L hosts Wake Forest on Wednesday, and nemesis Virginia on Saturday.
— c d kaplan