Louisville CardFile: Middle Tennessee (And a Nod to Walz’s Women)

It was the kind of day that Cardinal fans feel inclined to get poetic, a sunny early spring interlude, a pleasant valley Sunday on the banks of the Ohio.

And, out of respect for our burg’s favorite Derbytime Doublemint twins Cyb and Trish, it was a double your pleasure, double your fun kind of L1C4, #BeTheCardinals kind of day.

At High Noon in the NC2A, U of L’s one-seed distaff hoopsters eviscerated Marquette by 18.

Asia Durr hit her first five shots. Sam Fuehring hit her first five shots. Myisha Hines-Allen hit her first five shots. Jeff Walz’s charges were up 18 at the end of the 1st, and +25 at intermission.

You know what the Professor says?

That’s right, class, you look good when you make your shots.

So, when the guys tipped in the N1IT at 6:30 in front of yet another raucous old days feel of a throng — they actually did the friggin’ WAVE for throwback’s sake, upper deck included — it was as if the boys said, the ladies were so nice, let’s do it twice.

Against a plenty good Middle Tennessee Blue Raider outfit, the men went 7/15 in the 1st. Then improved on that in the 2d, hitting 9/15 from the field, including 6 of 10 attempts from beyond the deeper post-season arch.

The guys kept the visitors measured the rest of the way, their lead never dipping into single digits, and ran it out by 16, 84-68.

So, yeah, I’ll play this strain out for all it’s worth, it was a Yummy! Win Win for the University of Louisville. (Kudos to the staff and facilities folks, who had a long, long Sunday.)

 * * * * *

Ray Spalding was The Man early. He tallied on a jumper, and a flush fed by Quentin Snider, and, for good measure, another. And, for further measure, another score with assist to Q.

At halftime, he had 10 and 2, finishing with 16 points, 4 boards 2 assists 2 steals, a block and NO turnovers.

The turning point of the tilt came in the 2d, when Middle’s star, spark plug and leading scorer Nick King picked up his third foul at 4:32 and his interlopers trailing the Cards by only 3. He found a seat.

From then until cocktail time, before a missed heave at the buzzer, the men paid their respects to Ms. Asia, Ms. Sam, and Ms. Myisha. They took five shots. They made five shots, four of which were zanyness-inducing threeball bombs.

One by Ryan McMahon. Another by McMahon. And, oh well, ho hum, another by McMahon. Then Q did it too.

The 16-4 blitzkrieg put the Cardinals up 41-26 at intermission.

Because the Blue Raiders’ King was able to ball in the 3d and 4th, U of L, steady as she goes, were held to +1 after the break.

Buuuuuuut, the King in blue wasn’t the only royal on the floor. The Cardinals’ VJ King was active and engaged. He led U of L with 6 rebounds, 5 coming before the break. He scored 13 on 4/6 marksmanship from the field.

VJ, a Golden Arches A-A remains as elusive to figure out as the ingredients of a McRib sandwich, a riddle inside an enigma, or however that goes.

To be honest, he should have had two more when he was wide open after a Cardinal steal, but on the play Jordan Nwora did what scoring-minded freshmen do. Instead of passing it ahead to VJ, the rookie dribbled it the whole way to fatten his own stat line.

Which would have been plenty impressive enough without the ball hoggery on that one play. Nwora tallied 17, hitting half his shots, including 4/8 from Duluth Trading.

Mr. McMahon, by the by, finished with 15, three assists, and a steal.

Actually all who saw action contributed. Q had 8 assists against but one turnover. Darius Perry netted 8, had three assists and no giveaways.

Mahmoud was especially strong for an interlude at the beginning of the 2d, with a block, a leaping save when the ball was headed out of bounds, and a follow slam.

The only real head scratcher was Deng Adel, who had, as we wags are wont to say, “one of those games.” No points. He only took a single shot. A couple boards. Three giveaways. To his credit, he seemed to settle in and accept it. He didn’t force matters.

Dwayne Sutton was steady, if not spectacular.

 * * * * *

It was obvious from the get go that the entire team was more engaged at tip than the other evening against Northern Kentucky. They played as if they really do prefer balling than, well, anything else.

The Cardinals’ zone was pretty feisty in the first half. The man to man employed most of the second also worked.

David Padgett played some odd lineups down the stretch. But, after taking the big lead in the 2d Q, U of L never faltered.

 * * * * *

The crowd was pumped. Like, really pumped. It was a Love In.

Did I mention the WAVE late in the 4th when the game was won? So I did. I couldn’t stop smiling.

A seriously adoring, respectful Standing O for Denny Crum.

A seriously adoring, respectful Standing O for the women’s team during another break. (Until the buzz kill known as “Simba Cam.”)

 * * * * *

Next up for the men, another N1IT home game in the quarter finals against Mississippi State on Tuesday at 9:00 in the Yum!.

The women advanced to the NC2A Sweet Sixteen in Lexington’s Russ Arena next weekend. They’ll play the winner of Stanford vs. Florida Gulf Coast.

And, I suppose we’ll find out sooner rather than later if all the rumor & innuendo about Chris Mack to the Belknap Campus is true. His Musketeers fell last night in the Round of 32.

Then again we might not know about any of that until after U of L pays a visit to Madison Square Garden.

— Seedy K



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