As is my way, I’m writing this the morning after. Win or lose, I like to let the game sit in my soul for awhile before weighing in. Kind of like how expert chefs advise to let a dish cool after taking it out of the oven.
So I’ve gone back and forth in my mind.
* * * * *
Pissed because the Cards fumbled the ball away 10 times in the opening half, which the vastly improved Panthers turned into 14 points. Pissed because U of L was throttled 16-4 to finish the 1st, making but 1 of its last 13 FG attempts. While the victors canned 6 of 7.
Pissed because, after settling a bit and draining 12 of its first 17 FG attempts after the break to pull within three with 7:50 to play, the Cardinals surrendered that momentum immediately after a Pitt timeout. The Panthers pushed ahead for a 13 point advantage in just over a couple of minutes of playing time.
Pissed because Louisville continued to be loosey goosey with the rock, giving it away seven more times in the 2d.
Pissed because U of L didn’t take advantage of Pittsburgh’s horrible 16/33 (49%) FT shooting.
Pissed because U of L was -14 on points off turnovers.
Pissed because, if Louisville wants to dance in March, it needs to win games like this one.
And just generally bummed because the game further underscored the reality that this edition of the Louisville Cardinals is destined to struggle. And, best case scenario, will be perched precariously on a bubble come Selection Sunday.
* * * * *
I’m somewhat accepting because conference games on the road, regardless of the opponent, even in a relatively empty arena, are never — never ever — a gimme. (Ask Auburn about what happened last night during a visit to Oxford Town?)
I am pleased, at least a bit, because the University of Louisville Cardinals DID NOT QUIT.
Pleased, for in the last four and a half of regulation, taking advantage of a height differential, and displaying significant grit, U of L pulled even at the buzzer to force extra time.
A trey by Christen Cunningham (23 points, 5 assists). Seven straight by Stephen Enoch (14 points, 7 rebounds, most after intermission) on a +1, a follow and a short J. A pull up by CC, and long ball twin tickler by Ryan McMahon.
Really pleased with the heartening thirty seconds at the end of regulation. Inbounding the ball under its own basket with but a few seconds on the shot clock, Dwayne Sutton (12 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists) strongarmed a deuce to knot the battle at 79. Louisville then prevented Pitt from even getting off a shot in the final :26.
Accepting, because the looks the Cards missed at the end of OT that might have meant victory were all legit shots.
* * * * *
Cardinal coach Chris Mack was not conflicted after losing his first ACC road game.
He was pissed.
“Bad night for our team.
Jeff’s guys were a lot harder playing than our team.”
“Our defense was deplorable.”
* * * * *
Next stop: Chapel Hill.
— Seedy K