Sometimes it takes a second one, or at least an aftershock or two to overcome more than a bit bumblin’ and stumblin’.
And, Oh My! (Homage to Dick Enberg), did the Cards need some Sly Stone Boom shaka-laka-laka Boom shaka-laka-laka to overcome Jim Larranga’s well-coached Hurricanes by 5 Saturday afternoon, 71-66.
Once down by 14 midway through the opening stanza, the Cards had clawed back to within a digit at 43-44, but wasted two opportunities to take the lead.
Two Anthony Lane FTs out of the media timeout with 7:24 to play pushed the visitors lead back up to 5 at 48-53.
Cue the Heavy Metal Thunder. (A “Seven Nation Army” wouldn’t have been enough.)
Here’s what the Cards did over the next 3:06.
A Jaylen Johnson reverse off the glass deuce from the paint. Assist by Quentin Snider. A Donovan Mitchell trey. Two second chance Mangok Mathiang FTs, after he snared an offensive rebound on a missed longball. A Deng Adel 3 +1 from the left corner, thanks to a feed by Mitchell.
Then DM grabbed a long defensive carom and beat every U player down the court for a fastbreak layin.
While the Cards were running off 13 in a row, the ‘Canes got zip, while facing and failing to figure our a huge helping of a rarely used, straight on 2-3 zone.
But, after Larranaga called his last timeout, and obviously said something to his charges that resonated, the visitors scored the next 8 in only 2:01.
All even at just a tick under two minutes left to ball.
Q drained two FTs.
After Donovan missed a technical charity toss — Miami called a timeout it didn’t have — he stole the ball. That led to a long, long, Steph Curry long Q trey with the shot clock racing to zero.
It was a welcome sight seeing #4 back in uniform
Not that the Cards were out of the woods with :41 remaining on the clock.
But the Cards held the relentless Hurricanes at bay with 3 Mitchell FTs, two steady Jaylen Johnson charity tosses. Plus a JJ block. And a JJ steal on Miami’s last possession with seconds to play.
The W was hardly a thing of beauty. But it was mighty gutsy . . .
* * * * *
. . . even thought that’s the last word one would think to use to describe the Cards’ play in the first.
The Cards didn’t score for the opening five minutes, falling behind 0-8. They never got closer than 6, and were down 7 at the break.
One set of numbers was startling. U of L’s four bigs only took four shots in the opening stanza. Anas Mahmoud’s malaise continued. He didn’t launch one before halftime. That can also be said about his ofer the second half performance.
Even more revelatory is this very disturbing reality. Louisville gave up 22 1st half points in the paint. Only six came from Miami’s insiders. Most — 16 to be exact — came when the visitors’ ball handlers simply blew by Cardinals channeling their inner matadors.
It was without a doubt U of L’s worst defensive half of the season.
* * * * *
How did the Cards prevail?
Well, through grit mostly.
They also netted 11 long balls. And canned 16/20 at the FT line.
Silent K was steady off the bench, playing tough and grabbing 8 misses.
JJ was even more solid. He also grabbed 8 boards, scoring 10.
Louisville’s big three scorers did what they have to do for U of L to be victorious. Adel and Mitchell both tallied 18. Q contributed 13. And, even though he sometimes dribbles side to side a bit too much, it is great to see him back on the court?
Have I mentioned that previously? So I did.
* * * * *
Mahmoud wasn’t the only big who came up small.
Ray Spalding played like he wished he was at the cineplex with some coed, checking out “The LEGO Batman Movie.”
And, I’m not sure what to think of V.J.King’s afternoon? Coming off his sparkling 24 point effort at UVa, The Rick simply sat him most of the night.
King made a defensive gaffe after starting the tilt, and was pulled after a scoreless three minute opening stint. He drained a trey during his two hardwood minutes in the second.
And that was it.
* * * * *
So, U of L really didn’t do much right, except follow the Bee Gees advice during a first half media timeout by “stayin’ alive.”
Here’s what The Rick thought: “They were the better basketball team tonight, but we showed incredible character to win this game. We’re real proud of that, probably our best game of the season in terms of character because we didn’t have it tonight in any phase of the game.”
Next up: Wounded Syracuse in the Dome. The Orange fell at Pitt Saturday. They need significant Ws to make the Dance. Not optimal for the Cards trekking to northern NY for Big Monday.
— Seedy K