Louisville Basketball: Clemson Game Recap

Jan 10, 2016; Clemson, SC, USA; Louisville Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino reacts during the second half against the Clemson Tigers at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Tigers won 66-62. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 10, 2016; Clemson, SC, USA; Louisville Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino reacts during the second half against the Clemson Tigers at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Tigers won 66-62. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports /

Don’t Panic Just Yet!

After a nail biter in Raleigh against NC State, the Cards marched into The Bon Secours Wellness Center with a quality road win under their belts. Clemson came into this game with an okay record, but on a two game win streak with wins against Florida State and Syracuse in league play. Going into the game, I was thinking it would be a tough road game, but we would hold on and come away with a 10ish point win. However, history reminds us of Louisville’s January woes and we left the Palmetto State with a 66-62 loss.

Before I get into the cons of the game, here were some of the good parts of our play.

  1. Louisville held the Tigers to 32.6% from the floor.
  2. Louisville rebounded very well. Anas and Chinanu both racked up double digit rebounds and Louisville held a 53-31 advantage on the boards. Louisville also held a large advantage on the offensive glass, out-rebounding the Tigers 24-8.
  3. Chinanu Onuaku was UofL’s player of the game. 14 points on 7 of 8 shooting and 10 boards for his third double-double in many ACC contests.
  4. I thought our bigs played very well. Both Jaylen and Mahmoud had great games, and I was impressed with their mid and long range shooting. That needs to be part of our offense for sure.

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Let’s move onto the not so great parts of this game…

  1. The Cards committed 29 fouls which led to Clemson shooting 44 free throws. That wouldn’t have been so bad had Clemson not capitalized for 32 points at the charity stripe. Foul trouble kept Onuaku on the bench at the end of the 1st half and led to both Onuaku and Mahmoud fouling out. I love Ray Spalding but he can’t hold down the front court by himself. Both Jaylen and Ray look confused and scatterbrained in the post. They have a lot to work on.
  2. Louisville’s offense is cooling off, leading to the Cards shooting just 35% from the field. Pair that with a lack of a 3-point bucket until late in the 2nd half, and that won’t lead to many victories for our squad.
  3. Our opponents finally have seen quality game film on Damion Lee and Trey Lewis in a Cards uniform and they know how to stop our leading scorers. The duo combined for 5-31 from the field. That’s 16%. That number obviously needs to increase for us to have any success.
  4. Louisville turned the ball over a season high 17 times, yet only forced 12 turnovers. Pitino’s teams rely on takeaways and turnovers. He said in his presser he aims for 40 deflections a game, and this team is only averages around 20.

Why We Shouldn’t Panic…just yet

  1. Let’s see how this Louisville team responds on Thursday night against Pitt. January has been a month when our offense sleeps and losses are handed out by lesser opponents. Believe it or not, four years ago today was the tragic 90-59 loss to a terrible Providence team. Where did we end up four years ago? With wins over Draymond Green and the #1 Michigan State Spartans and a terrific Florida Gators team…and oh yeah, in the Final Four.
  2. Mangok is still 3-4 weeks away from possibly returning and the Cards need his energy off of the bench. I never thought I’d ever say that, but having his experience is necessary to our success. Like I said, I love Spalding, Johnson, and Stockman, but they still have a lot of work to do. They need to be more physical in the paint, especially when Onuaku isn’t on the floor.
  3. This team likes each other. There is a chemistry within this team that I don’t know that I’ve really seen since our run to the National Championship in 2013. The roster is full of underclassmen, but Lee and Lewis strike me as the big brother role models that we desperately needed. If any team could put this loss behind them, it’s this team.

This game reminded me of the game at Cincinnati in 2012. Our offense couldn’t get going, and Cincy’s ability to hit big 3’s led to a four point defeat. Pitino really wants to implement his famous match up zone, and I feel like this team is capable of running the defensive set, but more Man D would have helped. Clemson had the perfect gameplan, they spread us out and made us pay. When we crashed to the middle, they dished it back outside and hit some killer 3s.

Don’t lose faith. These Cardinal Basketball teams continue to surprise us, year-in and year-out.

Go Cards.

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To see the box score from this game on ESPN, click here.