On a night when there were Cowboys in the corral, past, present and always — That would be Troy Aikman, Tony Romo and Jerry Jones — they were confronted with the new sheriffs in town.
Not TV’s Hannibal Heyes and Jedidiah “Kid” Curry, but the REAL Alias Smith and Jones — That would be Russ and Chris — who rode into town, tamed the Mustangs, went veni, vidi, vici before the school marms could flutter their lashes and were vámonos with a W before Dubya in the front row could figure out what was happening.
Yes, kids, it was that kind of victory. One to savor. One to joke about. One worthy of the most purple of prose.
Thus I must opine that the 7300 or so rabid SMU fans did not savor a Night In White Satin.
They remain in Search of the Lost Chord.
Their Days of Future (have) Passed. At least momentarily.
They have awakened with a case of the New Moody Blues.1
* * * * *
Russ Smith was vomitus eruptus on the sidelines.
And he was indeed, perhaps more so than ever, Russdiculous in the second half.2
Smith’s second half stat line: 8/10 from the field, including, all together now, 6/6 from beyond the arc. Four rebounds. Four assists. A steal. And but one wafer thin miscue.
Smith, between periodic hurls at the end of the bench, grabbed the tilt by the short and curlies, and said, “It is mine.”3
And, if Smith wasn’t doing it, Jones was.
Jones tallied 21 points, including 4 treys in 7 attempts. And pilfered the rock 6 times.
His nine second flurry early in the second half may have been the key sequence in the game. Up 2 at the break, U of L was outscored 1-7 afterward, falling behind 33-37. After a Luke Hancock FT, Louisville was still behind three. Jones drained a three from the corner with an assist from Harrell at 16:14. Then stole the inbound pass, canned the lay up and completed the +1.
From three down to three up in nine seconds. Huge.
That Jones performed at such a high level, just days after his best friend/ step brother was shot and killed in Memphis, dying while Jones was playing across town, makes his performance all that more amazing.
* * * * *
A pause for a second to admonish, first, myself, and, second, all fans everywhere.
We would be wise to think for a moment before criticizing players because they aren’t meeting our aspirations and expectations on the court. They have lives, which might be far more complicated than we know.
Jones has been criticized all year, because he hasn’t been the second coming of Peyton Siva, or Russ Smith, or a combo of both. He made reference to the barbs after last night’s W.
Wayne Blackshear’s game remains a mystery. He too, I’m sure, feels the wrath of a dissatisfied portion of the fan base.
But, we must remember. It’s not like these players aren’t trying. They want to perform well, more than we want them to perform well.
That said, Blackshear only played 9 minutes last night.
But his lone bucket was a big one, securing Cardinal momentum late. So too, his midcourt steal, when SMU was making one last, belated charge.
* * * * *
Having just put a monitor on my oh so critical self, how do I talk about the play Luke made with 1:24 to play, and the Cards merely needing to play it out with a 80-67 lead?
Hancock intentionally fouled Ben Moore. Flagrant I. Two shots and the ball. Both FTs went down. The Mustangs scored on a perfectly crafted and executed inbounds play in one second. 80-71, and, all of a sudden, SMU had life.4
Luuuuuuuuuuke, whatever were you thinking?
Hancock was also a below average 6/10 at the charity stripe. However, I noticed that the index finger of his shooting hand was bandaged. Whatever the nature of that injury, it obviously affected his stroke and release.
* * * * *
It certainly looked like a Memphis meltdown deja vu all over again, when the Cards’ 52-45 lead was reduced to 55-54 at the second to last media timeout. Russ’s second stanza wizardry wore off for an interlude. He had just missed a dunk, and had a layup blocked.
But this time, the Cardinals held tough. They did not relinquish the lead.
They were also rock steady early on. They fell way behind, 12-26 at the 7:08 mark of the opening half, after a Markus Kennedy jumper.
Then did the tighten up, allowing nary a Mustang FG the rest of the half. As in zero FGs. While fashioning a 15 zed run to take the lead at 27-26.
U of L came back without Pitino calling a single timeout during the opening half.
* * * * *
The L may be Silent, but Montrezl Harrell’s game is no longer.
His game to game accelerated improvement is, frankly, stunning. It’s like he flipped on the switch. I can’t recall a Cardinal, whose game improved so much, so quickly, during the middle of the season.
19 points. 8 boards. 3 assists. 3 steals and a block.
* * * * *
The Cards had 17 steals, forcing 23 SMU turnovers. Which resulted in 25 U of L points.
Louisville was 19/27 at the line, an acceptable 70%.5
* * * * *
During the game, SmartGuy texted me, “Pete Gillen has got to give up lattes.”
Indeed. The former Xavier/Providence/UVa coach come color announcer was übercaffeinated.
Though some of his reference were pretty interesting. He compared the coaching matchup between two Hall of Famers to Boris Spassky vs. Bobby Fisher.
After one Silent L power move, Gillen exclaimed, “Let the Big Goat eat.”
* * * * *
For a network that’s been doing college hoops for decade, CBS Sports’ production last night was not good. Several times, they’d be showing the bench or sideline reporter when there was action on the court.
* * * * *
While I’m sure The Rick wasn’t pleased with the L at Memphis State, I’m so positive he was shaven at the earliest possible moment afterward. Coach’s beard was U.G.L.Y.
Not only is Larry Brown Pitino’s equal — or superior — coaching-wise, the guy is also as dapper. I’ve never thought a black shirt and tie with a black suit was a good look. On anybody. But Brown pulled it off last night with panache.
Speaking of black, I was pleased to see the Cards wearing red on the road. The way the Good Lord means for it to be. Black road unis have become a cliche.6
Purdue can wear black. Cincy’s been wearing black for decades. But the rest of the Johnny Come Latelys, including U of L, fuhgettaboutit. Wear your school’s primary color.
— Seedy K
3 thoughts on “Louisville Card File: SMU”
credit Luke with attacking SMU’s guards and drawing significant “away from the basket” fouls for #’s 2 and 3 on SMU’s Brown (#3)and then inducing the 4th foul on their “star” guard Moore. Not quite the Kevin Durant ball sweep at the defender’s outstretched arm, but it’ll do !
There were so many cliches in the above that I am surprised that Kenny and the Accents didn’t start belting out “Mustang Sally.” ……
It’s March. You need to step up your game and blog at a tournament level. Don’t fade into the sunset like Calipari at a post-game press conference. I know you are a seasoned blogger. Type like it. Don’t blame it on the blog being young or that your bloggettes don’t listen. Don’t even suggest that two of your keys just disappeared in the clutch. Don’t mention that the editors are out to get you or that your readers need to read harder. Above all—no sympathy plays—I don’t care if you need a new hip or space bar at the end of the season.
Man up. Take responsibility for once that your readers don’t know Latin, Spanish or the lyrics to “On, On U of K.” and….btw…are Pinder, Edge etal. the starting line-up on the rough tough S.C Gamecock squad, or are you trying to fool us—again….?????
The second Heyes was Roger Davis who moved back to Louisville and restored the Seelbach and built 1400 Willow. That’s a second Louisville Smith and Jones connection.
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