Until the 15:36 mark of the 2d of an eventual sixteen point W over hapless Virginia Tech, the University of Louisville Cardinals played like they were Harrison Bergeron.
Except Jordan Nwora, who was energized and played completely throughout.
Bergeron was the main character of a Kurt Vonnegut short story set in 2081, when amendments to the US Constitution have dictated that everybody be fully equal. Thus those that are athletically gifted are forced to wear heavy weights to impede any physical or talent advantages.
And that’s how U of L was playing, against a school the Cards had bested 15 times in a row, and 26 of the last 28. (The 14-16, ‘90-’91 squad dropped those two.) Also, the Hokies, with no starter over 6-7, arrived at the Yum! having dropped 8 of 9 in the current campaign.
Yet the score was knotted at 27 at the break. The Cards were playing as if there were weights around their ankles, road blocks preventing stops, and straps preventing full extension on their shots. You know, like the characters in “Harrison Bergeron.”
Except for Nwora who had connected on half his shots, grabbed 7 rebounds, dished out 2 assists and was fully engaged at the defensive end. (He finished with a double double, 20 and 12.)
”Just score one more point than Tech and get out of here alive,” I told anybody who would listen to my carping about their play at the half. But, the Cardinals continued to stumble and fumble out of the gate after intermission, committing turnovers on three of their first five possessions.
They fell behind 32-34, after giving up a too easy second chance deuce to the visitors.
So, guess who it was that kickstarted a 12 nil run?
Dwayne Sutton. Duh.
Not that anybody knew immediately if his follow deuce would count? Or if he was called for a charge? Or if there was a shot clock violation?
After review during the media timeout, the score was added on the scoreboard, tying the game. Sutton was the one fouled, and he netted the +1 for the lead when play resumed. And Louisville pushed away from there. Finally.
Nwora trey. 38-34.
Steven Enoch FT. 39-34.
David Johnson fastbreak layup. 41-34.
Ryan McMahon from the parking lot. 44-34.
Timeout Hokies. Ballgame.
Tech never got closer than 8 the rest of way.
Walkon senior Keith Oddo drilled an exclamation point threeball to make it 68-52 at the buzzer.
* * * * *
Dwayne Sutton finished with 8 and 9.
Steven Enoch grabbed 11 boards, but, against the truly small Hokies only tallied 8 on 2/9 shooting. Injured Malik Williams was missed.
Senior Ryan McMahon scored 10 with three assists.
David Johnson added 8 with four rebounds. He dished out six assists, against a lone giveaway.
* * * * *
I’m not sure what to make of, or what else there is to say about U of L’s relatively lackluster performance.
Kudos most deserving to Jordan Nwora, who played the kind of focused game the faithful have been looking for, and hope to see during the Madness that is March.
Louisville closes out the regular campaign on the road in Charlottesville Saturday next.
— c d kaplan