My first notice of the Louisville Cardinals playing a zone during their nine point setback to Florida State came after Matt Cross scored on an inbound play during the first possession after a media timeout in the 1st to knot the score at 28.
The Cards had gotten off to a fairly energetic start, at least at the offensive end, scoring on three of their first four possessions for a quick 7-2 advantage.
Sam Williamson seemed especially engaged. At the 11:18 TV timeout, the score 16 a-piece, he had 7 and 5. Second chance points stood at 6-2, favor Team in Black.
U of L was generally holding its own against the much much taller Seminoles. Though the victors’ bigs had several dominant, too easy stuffs, there had been four ties and nine lead changes by the 7:17 All State vs Geico, Progressive gets winner interlude.
Cross then tied it up at 28-28.
U of L went Zone, which Chris Mack called in his post game presser, “fairly effective.”
Yet, while employing that D, the Cards were outscored 12-22, and thus were down by 10, 40-50 at intermission.
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One of The Professor’s Not So Socratic Method Proclamations through the decades is that the most important portion of the game is “the last five minutes of the last half and the first five minutes of the second half.”
Kind of like in baseball how you’re supposed to be strong up the middle. Something like that.
Generally speaking, he speaks the truth. A strong middle never hurts. A weak middle can.
The Cardinals first five possessions of the 2d: Miss. Miss. Miss. Offensive foul/ turnover. Miss, turnover on 2d chance.
State tallied twice to push their advantage to 54-50.
Plus sparkplug Jarrod West committed his second and third fouls on consecutive possessions.
Not what Herr Prof was edicting.
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But, while this U of L team apperars NIT bound, it does not fold.
Slowly, if not artfully or inevitably, the Cards pulled close.
Better defense helped. Seminole ace Caleb Mills had scorched for 23 in the 1st, but was held in check, until his deuce pushed State ahead 61-56 with 6:23 to go.
The Cards pulled within a deuce after a couple Mason Faulkner FTs at 59-61.
Again, 61-63 after a Williamson floater at 4:32.
But, that was it.
Louisville couldn’t get a stop a possession down. Nor any time thereafter. The winners scored on every possession of theirs until the buzzer.
Some open shots after good ball movement simply didn’t fall for the Cardinals.
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Losing a conference tilt on the road is pretty much pro forma.
Just yesterday, these Top 25 squads fell in foreign territory. Kansas. Texas, Iowa State. Colorado State. Tennessee. Alabama.
There’s always an exception, right? Like, say, Jim Larrañaga’s Miami Hurricanes, who won in Cameron Indoor.
But, for this Louisville Cardinal team to tarantella at The Dance come March, games like last night’s in Tallahassee must be won.
— c d kaplan