*Of course, I am giving it finishing touches too early this morning after.
Hitting the keyboard soon after the buzzer before beddy bye, because I never for one moment during the battle felt the Cards would prevail.
Not when Mason Faulkner’s layup with 5:21 to go provided a 60-58 U of L advantage.
Not when Noah Locke drilled his fourth triple — he finished 5/7 beyond the arc — to reclaim the lead, 63-61, after a Demon Deacon bomb by Isaiah Mucius.
Not after Malik Williams trey countered another bullseye by the same nettlesome visitor, to again move ahead, 66-64.
Not at 1:08 after Locke drilled his final missile, an et tu Brute response to an end of the shot clock threeball by Wake, for a 69-67 edge.
Nor after leading scorer Locke’s two charity tosses put Louisville up 71-67 with :16 left.
Certainly not after Jarrod West –mature, steady, reliable, savvy — captain Jarrod West — inexplicably committed a foul at midcourt with the Cards up 5, allowing WF to pull within one score with six seconds left.
And, even after a Faulkner FT put the Cards up four with three ticks left. Because he also went for a steal at midcourt and could have been whistled for a foul.
So, I’m looking at the final box score, and writing this in the wee hours after the game
Just To Make Sure for myself U of L really really really won.
It’s after midnight, and I’m lettin’ it all hang out.
* * * * *
Make no mistake.
It was a huge victory. Arguably one of the biggest — The Biggest? — of Mack’s reign as Cardinal head man.
An important W for a team that desperately needed it. For morale, as this squad might have been on the brink of falling apart without it.
But a victory that still sort of makes no sense.
Louisville gave up 32 points in the paint, was -14 for the night. At times, it felt like the visitors took title to the lane before tipoff.
Wake Forest snared 10 offensive rebounds. Six in the first 12:36 of action. Three, if you really want to dig down, on the first possession of the game. But only got a deuce from all that windexing, luckily for Louisville.
The Cardinals were -13 in Points off Turnovers, 2-15.
Those deficits were offset by long range bombing. 10/22 vs. 7/27.
FTs were 25/34 vs. 14/18, favor of U of L.
* * * * *
Like most who chronicle games of sport, I’m constantly thinking of a story slant as the plotline unfolds on the hardwood.
The willingness to adjust is mandatory.
Wednesday night’s consistent take was: Something’s just amiss with this U of L team.
A couple possessions stood out in that regard.
The Cardinals had the ball out of a timeout, down 35-39. There was great ball movement, effective player movement, really kinetic. Locke drove the lane off a nifty feed. But found himself surrounded. He shuffled his feet. Whistle. He appeared to be bumped, but still. Good work ended with nothing to show for it.
A similar offensive possession again at 54-58. Great set. Expertly executed. A bad pass by obviously off his feed Matt Cross. Turnover.
Then there was a five minute segment in the 1st when Louisville held the Deacs scoreless, but still only had a one point lead at the end of the sequence.
Matters simply weren’t ending positively, even when U of L was doing as they should. The Cardinals looked not quite right.
But, in the thrall of victory — U of L is 2-0 in league play — let’s just say there’s plenty to work on.
After a solid W over a team 11-1 entering the Yum!, it’s not the time to pick at nits.
* * * * *
Sydney Curry had a great stretch. Like, a really strong, efficient 2:46 on the court. Drew a foul on his first touch. Made a FT. Offensive board and follow on next trip. Drew another foul on big man move underneath on ensuing possession. Made FT. Bully Boy deuce next time. Six points a couple of ORBs in just those few minutes. Intense
Sam Williamson was the Sam Williamson Cardinal fans and Sam Williamson want Sam Williamson to be.
He started fast, moved great without the ball, allowing him to get the rock in his comfort zone. 12 points. 3/4 FG. 6/7 FT. 8 boards. Solid D.
Jae’Lyn Withers, off the bench, played better than he has. 8 rebounds.
Along with his important scores, Faulkner dished out five assists.
Malik Williams. Dependable. Anchored. 11 and 6.
Shooters shoot. Noah Locke, he’s a shooter. In a slump no more, he was 5/7 from Treyville. Including those two humongous makes late. Tallied 17.
And a tip o’ the fedora to Chris Mack, who coached a good game, who got his team ready for a tough foe in a couple of days.
* * * * *
Louisville committed only 4 giveaways in the 2d.
Down 9 early after intermission, U of L won by 4.
I did the arithmetic. That’s a 13 point turnaround.
They were actually down 6 with 8:55 displayed on The World’s Most Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Scoreboard.
A sweet way to end the year.
Yes, dude, believe it now, the Cards actually won.
— c d kaplan