Let’s jump right in.
1. We’ve been dealing with a steady string of unbelievable house disasters for the last week (will detail more on the next pod, but it’s the biggest reason this post is so delayed), and one of the results of said disasters was an LG&E guy telling me he couldn’t turn the gas to my house back on just as I saw DJ Steward wide open for a potential game-tying three that went about three-quarters of the way down. Virginia was also screaming absolute bloody murder through the whole sequence.
Had that shot dropped, I probably would have just walked up to the roof and jumped off. It wouldn’t have killed me, our house isn’t that big, but I definitely would have broken at least a couple of bones in my legs. That would have been a welcome distraction.
2. Justin Champagnie is awesome, Jay Huff is absolutely rolling, and Matthew Hurt showed all of us on Saturday just how good he is.
Carlik Jones is the best player in the ACC right now. There’s a lot of basketball still to be played and so much can change between now and early March, BUT ... Carlik Jones is the best player in the ACC right now.
Nine straight points to end the game, a couple of ridiculous finishes over much larger players, and ice in his veins every time he stepped to the free-throw line. The only big shot he missed in the game’s closing minutes was the easiest one he had; that little left-handed layup after he wiggled around Steward.
The guy just rules, and I don’t like thinking about where we would be without him.
3. As good as Carlik was down the stretch, David Johnson was the guy who had the biggest positive impact for Louisville during the heart of this game. He seemed to hit a big three or have a huge assist every time Duke started to go on a mini-run, and his defense on Matthew Hurt in the second half may have been the single largest factor when it comes to how U of L was able to come out of this one with a win.
It also has to be noted that Chris Mack moving Johnson on to Hurt is as rewarding an in-game move as we’ve seen from a head coach in a long while. You can nitpick all the little negative stuff when the team loses, that’s fine, these guys get paid a lot of money — but you can’t, in the next breath, gloss over this massively positive move that played a large part in Louisville winning a game it really needed to have.
4. Dre Davis in Louisville’s 10 wins: 10.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg
Dre Davis in Louisville’s three losses: 3.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg
Dre Days are typically Louisville Days.
5. That’s the good, here’s the bad ...
There’s one possession in every close game where Dre Davis just gets that look, and I wind up saying “easy Dre, easy Dre” outloud just like in the “easy, Rod” scene from Super Troopers. That moment on Saturday came about seven minutes into the second half when Carlik Jones had just started cooking, U of L had built a six-point lead, and it seemed like the Cards were in prime position to create some solid separation for the first time. Davis chose that moment to receive a pass and immediately made a strong move to the basket that ended with him spinning into two defenders and turning the ball over.
I love the aggression from the freshman, we’ve just got to get him a little stronger when it comes to recognizing the moment. Carlik needs to touch the ball there.
6. I’m sure everyone’s seen this by now, but this Coach K answer was certainly something:
Coach K says Louisville was like the toughest test in the world. pic.twitter.com/N9TJjtIxxk— Nick Coffey (@TheCardConnect) January 24, 2021
Louisville Basketball: “The Toughest Econ Test in the World”
Put it on banner. Get that banner up before the next home game.
7. Duke entered Saturday averaging 13 offensive rebounds per game. Against the Cards, they were only able to wrestle down six.
One of the biggest reasons for that? Samuell Williamson.
I was really encouraged by the way Sam responded to coming off the bench for the first time this year. Mack obviously thought that Quinn Slazinski could be more physical with Hurt and maybe get in his head a little bit. It wasn’t really Quinn’s fault, but, uh, that did not work. When Quinn got caught in bad defensive spots multiple times at the beginning of the second half, that was when Louisville really had to have Sam come in and do a job. The fact that he didn’t start the game but did finish it is a testament to his maturity.
When Joey Baker’s potential go-ahead three with 34 seconds to play found nothing but iron, it was Williamson who came down with the biggest defensive rebound of the game. When Steward’s potential game-tying shot on the next possession went in-and-out there was a loose ball scramble in the aftermath, it was Williamson who wound up with his arms around the ball, pretty much ensuring the W for his team.
To go back to what we said earlier this month: Those are winning plays. That’s where everything has to start for Sam. The other stuff will come.
8. Via Josh Mark’s stat tracker app, your shot chart for the Duke game:
Much prettier than the Miami and Florida State versions.
9. Joey Baker drilling his three and then looking like he might knock down a go-ahead shot with less than a minute to go nearly forced me to delete our last podcast. It would have been a reverse jinx so extreme that I never would have felt comfortable assessing the skills of an opposing player ever again.
Thankfully, Joey Baker is not good.
See you in Durham.
10. Being the only program in college basketball that has faced Mike Krzyzewski at least 10 times and owns a winning record against him (8-6) is very cool. The man doesn’t have a whole lot of years left so there’s a very strong chance that we could wind up going down as the only program K faced at least 10 times and had a losing record against.
11. It’s pretty apparent that even though he’s not back to 100 percent, Chris Mack believes Charles Minlend is going to play a large role for this team down the stretch. if he didn’t, he wouldn’t have had him on the court in the closing moments of a nip-and-tuck game against the biggest and most powerful brand in college basketball.
Minlend was solid defensively, and his aggression allowed him to come down with a pair of offensive rebounds. The next step is getting away from his current mindset when his team has the ball, which is pretty clearly “just don’t screw up.”
12. By popular demand, after the Florida State game, I moved the Cardinal snowglobe up from the basement back to its traditional spot near the main entrance to the CC Headquarters. I found out on Saturday that Mrs. CC had noticed this, but chosen not to say anything. God bless her.
The people demanded it. We are game ready.— Mike Rutherford (@CardChronicle) January 23, 2021
Turnaround starts now. pic.twitter.com/aE2RL5Ao1K