At the end of the first half, a far from disconsolate band of Louisville Cardinals, energized and focused, led the visiting Clemson Tigers by a penny, 28-27.
In the opening stanza, the Cards — count along if you like — attempted 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 shots from beyond the arc.
They netted nil.
Or, to speak American, none.
Yet They still led at the break. But the 2d opened inauspiciously. The visitors tallied on the opening possession. Jae’Lyn Withers made it 0/11 from Treyville. Clemson scored again, after Dre Davis committed his third personal and had to be pulled. 28-31.
Then, from out of nowhere, U of L got in touch with their inner Luke Hancock.
Noah Locke from downtown, after a Jarrod West pilfer. 31 all.
A defensive stop. El Ellis three. 34-31.
Malik Williams steal. Locke again from Downtown. 37-31.
Another stop. Ellis again for a trey.
And, just like that, Cards led 40-31.
Timeout Brad Brownell.
* * * * *
I would love to report that Louisville adhered to Mr. Bunny’s axiom, to wit “Do Not Relinquish the Lead.”
Alas, that would not be the case.
In the opening half, U of L, which had gotten off to solid start, did relinquish advantages thrice. But immediately snatched them back.
Which they did again when it mattered.
With 8:25 to play on a Malik Williams bomb. From 49-50 > 52-50.
Again with the clock reading 6:32, when Williams, out of the doghouse after a “come to Jesus” meeting with Coach Mike Pegues, grabbed an offensive board, and fought for a second chance deuce in the paint. 52-53 > 54-53.
From then on, the Cardinal bombardiers answered every strafe with a strike of their own. And more.
Louisville, which hit 0% of its attempted triples in the 1st, connected on 42% in the 2d (8/19), including a Locke dagger with 1:11 left.
* * * * *
How about a round of applause for Mike Pegues.
Not only did he have the team ready, when they could have come out playing MeMeMeMe ball, and mailing it in.
I really like this fellow. How he handles himself. How he handles the team. How he tells it like it is. How he owns his own mistakes, and not in a perfunctory manner.
His post game opening statement: “Great to get one. I’m just proud of the guys. It’s been a long, hard road. There’s been a lot said about us, a lot of unfair rhetoric and propaganda about things that are going on internally in our program, which I think is completely unfair to be quite honest with you. I just want you guys to know that, just like any other family, you go through things. I don’t know what type of family you come from, but I come from a family where it’s not always peaches and cream, and our program hasn’t been any different this year. We’ve all been at fault, myself included. Our kids have struggled with the loss of their leader, with me taking over the reins again. I’ve struggled with some of my decisions. We’ve gone at each other like any other family and I’m just proud of our guys for hanging in there, for sticking together, and getting a really good win.”
On getting off the schneid: “We lost a lot of games in a row, so I feel like there is a huge weight taken off after winning. At the same time, we have another game in less than 48 hours. I am excited about the next game. I am excited about watching our game against North Carolina and seeing where we went wrong, what North Carolina has been doing lately, how our team can attack them, and how we can get our guys ready to go and excited about going on the road. Our fans have been great throughout it all. I feel bad for our fans. I feel bad for our players first and foremost, but I feel bad for our fans because we have had such a rough year but, at the same time, the passion at Louisville is just incredible. We have lost an unprecedented number of games in a row, and it is incredible that we still get a good crowd like we did today on a Saturday afternoon and people cheer for our team and are pulling for us. We are 10th or 11th in the ACC, and the fans are still there. That’s incredible. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I am so thankful and grateful to be a part of this team, no matter how much longer I am here. I am thankful that, if for one time in my career, I have been a part of an organization that pulls for their program and gets behind the players. I’m just honored and grateful to be a part of that.”
* * * * *
To the man, everybody hustled their buttocks off on D. Not always perfectly. But with effort the whole 40.
One example: That play when both West and Williams hit the hardwood for a loose ball, gaining the possession when, during the scramble, a Tiger touched the ball while out of bounds.
The Cards were similarly engaged when they had the ball. There was movement heretofore unseen. Of course, it didn’t always work. Yes, there were a few jacked up threes. But no stasis was to be seen.
I was sitting courtside. To me, it was obvious how much the squad wanted to win the game. 12,000 seconds of intensity. (5 players at a time x 40 minutes x 60 seconds.)
Yeah, the victory was over a mediocre Clemson team.
Though it’s most certainly contextual, and recency bias, I’m not sure I’ve ever wanted a W more. (Of course, I have, but you know what I’m sayin’.)
At every juncture, I invoked traditional incantations. To “Art & Art” when we needed FTs. To “Be the Cardinals” when U of L needed to stay strong down the stretch.
It’s just damn fun to win.
— c d kaplan
6 thoughts on “Louisville CardFile: Clemson”
Well, it felt good. Not great. Defense better. Good showing at beginning of second half. Temporary “Coach P” did his thing…I hope he finds a good gig. I continue to have hope.
Hurray for the Cards!!! Glad I was wrong. Pegues is pure class. (Morgan Wooten was his coach at DeMatha. One of the best.) It just feels good.
Didn’t realize CMP was a Wooten/DaMatha product. Top notch program.
Glad your boys got a W for themselves and the Ville in general 👊😎
Iron pyrite. So much prospecting to do before any genuine gold is mined.
Another nice post on a happy night. Like the 2013 NC game references – Luke and just like that! Our long Cardinal nightmare is over, at least for now.
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