Louisville CardFile: Notre Dame

Where to start?

Well, we could begin with arguably the gutsiest set out of bounds play in the history of U of L hoops.

Or, a git ‘er done second half performance for the ages.

Or, how a mediocre at best, anemic at worst FT shooting squad shot bester than the best in the land at the charity stripe. (Which nominates me for the award for Best Use of A  Word and its Permutations in a Single Sentence.)

Or, how the Ladybirds overcame serious technical difficulties to prove yet again how their discipline is one of America’s Great Endeavors.

Or, how the Cards didn’t let a mediocre effort at the end of the first, and an even lamer beginning to the second get them down.

Or, how U of L wobbled near the conclusion, but remained steadfast and, following the sage words of Mr. Bunny, “did not relinquish the lead.”

Or, how the guys in the white unis played a single defense all night — man to man — and thwarted one of the best coached, best executing teams extant.

And, time permitting, I’ll get to all that.

 * * * * *

But, first, let’s chat about Mangok Mathiang.

Who, in his final game at the Yum!, let loose with a career performance.

Mango tallied a career high 18 points, 12 of which came before intermission.

He entered the game after Anas Mahmoud missed 3 of 4 point blank shots early. MM was the catalyst, kickstarting the Cards energy after a lumbering start. He scored on two consecutive trips to pull U of L within a point at 10-11. Then he tallied again to pull the Cards again within a digit at 15-16. And followed that score with a steal for the possession during which the Cards knotted the game for the first time.

MM also snared 11 rebounds, 6 off the offensive glass.

The Cardinals did a whole lot of things right in the hotly contested 61-64 W over the Fighting Irish. But it was Mathiang’s energy, dominance in the paint and double double that were the difference Saturday afternoon.

 * * * * *

Nobody’s caterwauled more about Louisville’s woeful FT shooting recently than me.

Thus I am pleased as punch to advise the Cardinals came up big — fortunately so — and grabbed more charity than the Golden Domers, who by the by are the country’s best FT shooting outfit at 81% as a team on the year.

“Don’t get in a FT contest,” I jotted in my notes as the back and forth battle was grinding toward the buzzer.

Not to worry.

U of L was a boffo 14/16. (87.5%). The visitors hit 75% (9/12), which is pretty good if under their season performance. And, of course, not close to the Cards’ standard for the day.

Jaylen Johnson, Ray Spalding and Mango all were 2/2 at the stripe.

When the game needed to be secured with less than half a minute to play, Donovan Mitchell went 4/4. That gave him a team high 20 points for the afternoon.

 * * * * *

In the opening half Quentin Snider had two points, just a couple assists and a turnover. He also started catching a cold from the blowing wind while getting beaten off the dribble.

Ah, but after the break, Q was The Dude.

More solid on D. And 15 points. 4 more assists and only one lost fumble.

He netted a bomb to tie the score at 40. Another the next trip down the hardwood for a 43-42 advantage. Another to give U of L some measure at 58-51. And a redux with another the next trip down at the 4:30 mark for good guys’ biggest lead, 61-53.

But there’s a reason they call ’em the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame wasn’t done, cutting the deficit to a deuce with :50 on the clock at 64-62.

 * * * * *

Which brings me to what was either the guttiest set out of bounds play in the storied history of U of L hoops . . . or the gutsiest bomb from beyond the arc ever, or at least since Luke Hancock bullseyed some unwitting Wolverines with four rounds from his shotgun.

The Rick always has a set play out of a timeout. Why would it be any different with a big game on the line in the last minute with a dissipating lead?

Anyway, thirteen seconds into the offensive set, Deng Adel was open beyond the arc off a pick and fired away from the elbow extended.

Swish. 67-62. Ball Game!

It was the Cardinals 9th threeball in but 20 attempts.

 * * * * *

My favorite sequence in the game came as the opening stanza was winding down.

Bonzie Colson missed a short shot that was altered by Anas’s presence. (I swear he blocked it, but that’s not in the official score sheet.) Mitchell hit a trey on the ensuing possession.

Soon thereafter Rex Pfleuger missed a lay up that was altered by Anas’s presence. (I swear he blocked it, but that’s not in the official score sheet.) Mitchell hit a trey on the ensuing possession.

That gave U of L a lead they would maintain until halftime.

 * * * * *

Louisville roughed up the visitors on the boards, 44-27.

Notre Dame had won six in a row coming in, its last L was on February 7.

The Irish’s glossy record when wearing gold unis in the last three campaigns slipped to 25-6.

 * * * * *

Ladies and Gents, that’s it for the regular season.

24-7. Not bad. Not bad at all.

You ready for some tourney action?

— Seedy K

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