One of your beat writer’s superstitions about the U of L Cards, among many, has been that it’s better to be one down at intermission than one up.
So, when David DeJulius netted a midcourt trey at the halftime buzzer, the Bearcats sixth of the stanza for a 31-30 advantage, yours truly remained relatively heartened by the winless Cardinals performance to that point.
After the break, the Cards went turnover, shot clock, missed shot, shot clock, missed shot in the first five possessions, while their long time upriver rivals tallied five.
The Cards still hung in before the first media timeout on a Jae’Lyn Withers triple, and a nifty El Ellis to Brandon Huntley-Hatfield assist for a deuce at the rim.
35-40 with 15:06 left.
The game was winnable.
But it was not to be.
Louisville’s really porous defense reared its ugly head.
Cincy scored 11 consecutive points.
Later, at the 8:19 stoppage, U of L was down 45-63, their 15 giveaways leading to that 18 point deficit.
Final score: Louisville 62, Cincinnati 81.
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The Cardinal Faithful all wonder: Is there any reason to be hopeful about this season?
For some, the answer to that is certain. No need to elucidate.
For others, the answer remains blowin’ in the wind.
There were some positives:
Kenny Payne changed his starting 5, inserting JJ Traynor, moving BH-H to the pivot.
JJ gave the Cards a spark, snaring a rebound on Cincy’s first miss, and hitting consecutive deuces soon thereafter.
Curry entered the fray at 14:25 and grabbed caroms on the first couple possessions after entering, but couldn’t finish a follow on the first one. He grabbed his third board by the next timeout.
He finished with 5 in ten minutes of action, didn’t score, taking only one FG attempt, and remaining one of this team’s many mysteries.
JJ finished with 10 and 3 in 33 minutes of PT.
When your scribe inquired at Media Day, if Traynor would play any at the 4, he was adamant, “No, I’m a 3.” But, it is easy to observe that he’s willing to mix it up underneath. His footwork and craftiness give him the skills to be effective in the turmoil of the paint.
Unfortunately he’s so slight, and lacks the strength yet to be fully a force there.
He continues to play with renewed confidence.
Kamari Lands returned to the progress he displayed against Arkansas. He scored 10, grabbed 4 misses, and was aggressive.
BH-H seemed more comfortable at the 5, leading the Cards with 15. Withers continued to fight, while still having trouble finding his scoring mojo. He led the team with 7 boards, and scored 6.
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Still more than a little worrisome:
The defense was awful. Porous.
Cincy hit 53% of its shots, including a dozen threeballs (vs. 3 for the Cards, -27). And scored 29 on fast breaks (vs. 4 for the Cards, -25).
El Ellis sometimes on sometimes off ever iffy play reminds this reporter of his least favorite Cardinal ever, Terrence Williams. Don’t want him on the court. Have to have him on the court.
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Next: Maryland, under the tutelage of former future Cardinal coach, Kevin Willard.
— c d kaplan