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Content by MARIA MURPHY / Photo by MIKE KRAUS – Sports View America ….
Content by: Maria Murphy
The University of Louisville’s latter half of its December schedule could be described as a bland peanut butter and jelly sandwich on some gourmet artisan bread. The bread being the Cardinals unsuccessful battle against Texas Tech in historic Madison Square Garden in the Jimmy V Classic and its upcoming rivalry match with the University of Kentucky at Rupp Arena. Sandwiched in between were the other two final, home non-conference games, a lopsided victory against Eastern Kentucky University this past Saturday and tonight’s matchup with the Miami (OH) RedHawks.
In what felt like a “get it over with game”, the Cardinals did not play their best basketball in the first half. There was balanced scoring by eight of the nine Louisville players that got minutes, but they made only 39% of their shots. Junior superstar Jordan Nwora’s night had an especially frustrating start making only two of his first six shots and causing four turnovers.
Even with the subpar offensive play, the Cards still overmatched their opponents in most facets of the early part of the game. They led 28-20 at the half.
The home crowd, hoping for some sort of spark in the second half, instead grew more frustrated initially. Miami’s freshman guard Dae Dae Grant hit a wide open three. On the next possession Louisville center Steven Enoch forced up an off-balanced hook shot midway through the shot clock, then after a RedHawk’s miss, Louisville point guard Darius Perry dribbled down the court and immediately threw up and missed a 15-foot jumper. Miami scored on an easy dunk the next possession to make it a three-point game, 28-25.
Perry stopped the Miami run with a made three but the RedHawk’s now had some confidence. Baskets were exchanged until senior forward Dwayne Sutton aggressively made back-to-back layups. After a Miami made layup and a couple successful free throws, Nwora started to get his groove back and made a contested 12-foot jump shot and an open three-point basket. The Cards extended the lead back to seven.
Louisville coach Chris Mack made substitution after substitution, looking for a unit that could get in some sort of offensive flow. More than two minutes went by with neither team scoring.
The RedHawk’s Josh Brewer ended the drought by hitting a deep shot to bring their deficit back to four, but Cardinal sharpshooter Ryan McMahon immediately answered with a three of his own. Louisville back-up center Malik Williams scored three of the next five points, along with another Sutton layup off an offensive rebound to build a little breathing room. The Cards scored 17 points in a row before the next Miami score.
Louisville ended up winning in a more impressive fashion than they started the game, with the final score of 70-46. Coach Mack credited the Cardinals strong defense stating “we used our defense when our offense wasn’t there”.
Despite his early struggles, the Cards were led again in scoring by Nwora with 20. Also, as has become the norm, Sutton dominated the boards with 15 rebounds. He also added eight points, four assists and three blocked shots.
The Cardinals now have a rare ten day break to get better before their next game against the University of Kentucky Wildcats. Kentucky has won the last two matchups and Louisville fans are hungry to get a win against their bitter rival. The game, in Lexington, is scheduled for a nationally televised audience on CBS on December 28 at 3:45 p.m.