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Seedy K’s GameCap: Mississippi State

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Cards manhandle Bulldogs by 14

Some very quick research into the etymology of the concept of perfection reveals, as is usually the case, many possible origins.

But, as we with most of this sort of philosophical rambling, we end up back with the Greeks.

And I’m not talking Delta Tau Chi.

Isocrates had some ideas about it.

So too, Plato. Of course, he did.

A couple of meanings jumped out at me as I contemplate Louisville’s surprising and surprisingly easy 72-58 win over Mississippi State in the Bahamas late Thanksgiving night.

In one place I saw it described as “the action or process of improving something until it is faultless or as faultless as possible.” Meaning a process itself can be described as perfect, even if the ultimate flawlessness desired hasn’t yet been achieved.

Which is just another roundabout way of mine to get to my point about the Cards performance against the Bulldogs.

I thought it was a perfect game for Louisville.

Though it was obviously far from faultless.

U of L committed 15 turnovers, and had only 10 assists.

The Cards only hit 59% of their FTs (13/22).

The fellows who appear to be this edition of the Cards most reliable scorers were a combined 1/12 from the field. Noah Locke: 1/9. (Too many trips down the resort’s Devil Water Slide?) Matt Cross: 0/3.

PG leader Jarrod West was 1/6, and had one more turnover (4) than assists (3).

Louisville was outscored 6-20 over the final 9:52 of the no contest.

Yet . . . it was a perfect performance because . . . after State netted a couple charity tosses on its first possession, it never led again. Malik Williams grabbed a Dre Davis miss for a follow deuce. 2-2. Next trip down, Jae’Lyn Withers drained a triple. 5-2.

The Cardinals were never in peril the rest of the way.

5-2 > 8-4 > 12-6 > 16-8. On and on it went.

At the first media stoppage, the Cards already had two follow scores, after grabbing offensive rebounds.

By the second timeout for another announcement of cable provider’s $29.95 cellphone deal, Sam Williamson was 3/3 off the bench, including a second chance deuce off an offensive board. This against the school, which had a +13 rebound margin coming in, and which had the SEC’s leading rebounder last season, Tolu Smith, back in the starting lineup.

The Cards didn’t shoot particularly well.

The Cards didn’t look especially fluid on offense.

The Cards were loose with the ball from time to time.

But, they were never threatened.

At the half, U of L had six points off turnovers to none surrendered. Had 12 second chance points off 9 offensive rebounds. And was +6 in paint points.

Louisville led by 16 at the break. The only time State got closer was at the final margin.

* * * * *

So, was it Mississippi State’s ineptitude?

They hit their first and only triple, after 15 misses, with 2:22 left, to cut the Cards advantage to 70-51.

Or, was it U of L’s steady, pretty intense every second of the tilt defense, and relentless focus on hitting the boards?

Or both?

It’s always a combination of factors.

State had no fire.

U of L came ready to compete. Which it did beginning, and mostly to the end.

* * * * *

So, without any reluctance whatsoever, let’s give credit where it is surely deserved.

Mike Pegues did a great job starting to get he squad back on track, after the seriously unimpressive performances on the court and the bench, during the opening four games at home.

The Cards played with energy and focus.

I believe Pegues, whom I’ve been throwing under the bus during his entire reign in the first chair, deserves serious props for jump starting an obvious attitude change with positive results.

I thought his rotations were a bit more sensible. Especially how he juggled Roosevelt Wheeler and Sydney Curry, as Williams had some foul trouble.

Good on him.

I call the Cardinals’ performance perfect, even though they lost intensity after a Mason Faulkner steal led to a Malik Williams fastbreak follow deuce for a 66-38 margin.

The team now has a sense of what it can do against heightened competition, what it takes to do it. While also learning the pedal needs to stick to the metal, and there’s plenty of improving necessary.

* * * * *

Samuell Williamson was obvious Star o’ Game for Cards, with 15 and 6.

Dre Davis had 12 and 7, all but for one board in the 1st, when he was an igniter at both ends of the court.

Withers had 11, eight after the break.

Malik Williams, bless his heart, playing on patched wheels full of plugs and in need of balance, grabbed 10 boards, scored 8 points, and was his usual mature presence throughout.

(Except when he got in a little trash talk smackdown with State’s Smith, resulting in double offsetting Ts.)

It was simply a great way to end my favorite holiday of the year. If way after, way way after my bedtime.

Next: Maryland. Sat morning. 10:00 AM.

—c d kaplan