As a lifelong U of L diehard, who at times has sadly allowed the fortunes and misfortunes of the Cardinals to dictate the nature of his well being, there’s little in life as depressing as watching your team simply not show up.
With that as context, this reporter of sorts understands there’s nothing quite as loathsome as getting up before dawn the morning after and crafting a game recap, especially when it’s Louisville’s first really bad loss of the campaign, to an under .500 squad. To a team Louisville had conquered nine times in a row. (Hmm, that sounds familiar.)
So, instead of waiting until morning, I’m writing this before slumber. To get it out of the way. To purge the pain. So I can awake on the morrow looking ahead instead of behind.
Behind being what the Cardinals were against Georgia Tech for the full 40.
Jose Alvarado canned a trey on the first possession of the game.
The Yellow Jackets never relinquished the lead.
After a Dwayne Sutton deuce, Tech tallied nine in a row, forcing Chris Mack to call a timeout, with Louisville down 2-12.
The Cards could never completely close the gap. Sporadic mini-surges were counterbalanced with periodic droughts.
And the reality is that the Ramblin’ Wreck never were truly shaken. Because, frankly, the Cardinals never played with enough swagger and substance to make Pastner’s crew nervous. Color announcer Chris Spatola observed Louisville seemed to be suffering some sort of “malaise.”
U of L could only close the gap to 5 at intermission, even though Tech didn’t score for the last 4:00 before the half. And that’s about where it stayed for the remainder.
Nothing seemed to work as well as hoped. Mack went to a zone several times, because GT was driving the lane almost at will. But it didn’t fully shut down the victors.
The Cards went big, really big for a stint, when Williams and Enoch and Sutton and Nwora and Johnson were on the floor at the same time, with the Cards were down three, 43-46. U of L forced a turnover, then gave it right back.
It was that kind of night.
Consecutive threes by Malik Williams and Ryan McMahon in a span of :29 cut the deficit to a penny, 49-50 with 4:32 to play. But, after a timeout, Tech netted a deuce +1. U of L never got closer than two the rest of the way.
At one point during the opening half, Spatola said the Cards “never activated.” It was true in the opening half for sure. And mostly in the second half, though U of L made a push, but never the big shot or the big stop necessary to seize the game.
At halftime in the ACC Network studio, Jordan Cornette observed that Louisville was playing “with no edge.” It was an accurate observation for the Cards performance all evening.
Louisville’s depth wasn’t enough. Malik Williams and David Johnson with 16 each were the key factors in a 40-2 bench advantage. But it wasn’t enough. Obviously.
Nothing the Cardinals did was enough.
Louisville’s not the only team in the conference, or the only team in the country that’s suffered a bad loss.
It happens. But it’s always bracing.
It’s not fun. But it’s not the end of the world. (At least I hope that’s how it will feel in the morning.)
Sweet dreams aren’t made of this. Who am I to disagree?
— c d kaplan