Louisville blew a 51-42 lead, allowing the Bearcats to tally 11 straight to surge to a two point lead.
Surely, it was to the Cardinals’ credit that they hung tough and pulled out the W.
Truth is it should have come significantly easier, had Louisville held steady against the offensively bereft Cincy squad.
It was deja vu all over again against Memphis State.
Except for one thing. Louisville did not hang tough at the end. Louisville . . . well . . . the truth . . . Louisville blew it.
The Cards took a 65-57 lead with 4:47 to play.
After which, U of L missed 6 shots,1 missed two FTs including the front end of a 1+1, committed four fouls, turned it over when still up a deuce, gave up two layups, a threeball, 8 free throws . . . and were outscored 1-15 at crunch time.
Let me repeat, though it hurts oh so very much. Louisville was outscored by 14 points in the last five minutes, blowing a huge what should have been insurmountable lead for the second road game against a competitive foe in a row.
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Frankly, nothing else about the game matters.
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Okay, a couple of things.
Montrezl Harrell played without a doubt his best game ever as a Cardinal. 25 points. 12 rebounds. 3 steals. He even hit two of three FTs.
But I don’t recall him touching the ball after that dunk, which gave Louisville that 8 point advantage mrntionrf above.
Russ Smith was, well, Russ Smith. Stunning at the outset, POY stunning. 15 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists at the half stunning.2 Not so good or smart at crunch time. Both of his last two fouls were stupid. His late turnover during the Cardinal meltdown was devastating. Double-teamed, he should have given it up.
Chris Jones, a Memphis kid with a playground, I’m gonna show the homies chip on his shoulder, simply tried too hard and reverted to his early season form. He was 1/10 from the field.3
Mango is improving. But, he’s not ready for PT, if it’s a close intense game. His instincts remain elementary. Workhorse SVT is far more steady.
Despite Silent L’s monster mash, the Cards relied way too much on the long ball, hitting but 4 of 23.
Louisville turned it over 14 times. Nine in the first half when all the hoopla about how stalwart a road crew they are was proving to be hoo hah instead of hoopla.
The Tigers’ bench outscored U of L’s, 23-6.
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Losing to a Top 25 team, especially an arch enemy, in March on its home court is nothing to be ashamed of.
Nine Top 25 teams lost on the road yesterday. It’s that time of year.
How the Cardinals lost, however, should be of concern. Got to close, guys.
That said, there’s nothing fatal about the loss. Unless you happen to be The Rick’s facial hair. It is not time to panic.
It is time for Cardinal fans to understand this year’s team is, to be realistic, not really, except in our hearts, a legit national title contenda. Unless Russ Smith goes Kemba Walker, the team gets a favorable draw which parts like the Red Sea, and plays a team on the last Monday, which can’t put the biscuit in the basket.
Without logic, I have this feeling. Chastened, the Cards smite SMU Wednesday.
Which is to say, it’s the morning after. Hope springs forth again.
— Seedy K