Charlie’s Good Times: Louisville Basketball takes down the ‘Canes

LOUISVILLE, KY - JANUARY 06: Christen Cunningham #1 of the Louisville Cardinals shoots the ball against the Miami Hurricanes at KFC YUM! Center on January 6, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - JANUARY 06: Christen Cunningham #1 of the Louisville Cardinals shoots the ball against the Miami Hurricanes at KFC YUM! Center on January 6, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Louisville Basketball looked to get back to it’s winning ways as conference play tipped off with the Miami Hurricanes blowing into YUM.

My game day routine was not accustom to 6pm Sunday night tipoffs.  The normal Sunday game plan at Casa de Buenos Tiempos consist of picking up our Clicklist groceries (shoutout Kroger for one of mans greatest inventions), sweeping and mopping the floors, and having family dinner with my step mom. Instead this Sunday consisted of picking up before mentioned groceries, sweeping and mopping said floors, celebrating Taco Tuesday on a Sunday evening, and getting nervous as hell as Louisville Basketball fell down by 15 early in the first half to a Miami team they were expected to handle.

As I put my newly acquired frozen foods away I started to get excited for the the first Cards game since the loss to Kentucky. Excitement never turned to nervousness as I prepared a Taco Feast shortly before tip, I felt extremely confident the Cards would take care of the Hurricanes, get back to their winning ways all while picking up their first ACC win of the year. Right before tip I tweeted that all conference games are big games (follow @_charliethomas to catch the tweets) and that will be true all season long. If this Louisville team is going to return to March Madness this season then they are going to have to take care of the ACC teams they are suppose to and steal a game or two that they were not expected to. This win over Miami keeps that line of thinking right on track so lets take a look at the good, even better, and not so good of the take down of the Canes.

The Good: Thank goodness for Jordan Nwora

When Louisville fell down by 15 to the Hurricanes it seemed like one of those nights where the team was just not in rhythm. One of those nights where no one was shooting the ball well(much like the uk game) and maybe for the first time all season I grew a little worried about this team. The Jordan Nwora caught fire.

Jordan single handily spark The Cards comeback in the first half. He was lights out from the field and while “what if’s” do not count for much, I feel if Nwora was not a Cardinal on Sunday night Louisville would be 0-1 in ACC. Jordan finished with 20 points and 18 of those are what kept Louisville in the game in the first half.

The Better: Malik Williams’ Second Half

The first half was all about Jordan Nwora, the second half was captained by Malik Williams. Malik at some point or another guarded every position on the floor well and had a career game in both points (19) and rebounds (11)- one of which game while being fully seated on the floor.

Malik’s play spread like wild fire though out the Cards as after the slow first half 5 Louisville players finished with double figures: Nwora (20), Williams (19), Sutton (13), McMahon (12), and Cunningham (11). Cunningham hit back-to-back three point shots that put the Cards ahead for good and took a third that would have completely blown the roof off YUM had it fallen. Dwayne Sutton got back to his junkyard dog utility player ways pouring in 13 points and 7 rebounds.

Another huge bright spot was the reemergence of Ryan McMahon. Ryan had been in a slump for a few games and to see him get the chance to shoot through it was a testament to the faith Coach Chris Mack has in Ryan. Ryan is a big part of this team and it’s long term success may just depend on how well Ryan shoots the ball.

The last piece of “The Better” was seeing VJ King hitting the offensive glass and turning them into points. If you have read anything I have put out on Big Red Louie or follow me over on Twitter you know I am one of the proudest members of the VJ fan club. He stuck with Louisville when things were about as low as you could imagine and I will forever ride with VJ.

The Bad: The Slow Start

Against a team like Miami that is not only without its best player due to the whole FBI investigation, The Canes are just not a very deep team. They ended up tiring out and Louisville took advantage. When Duke, UNC, or Virginia come to town, the Cards are going to have to be more tuned in and avoid a start like they had against Miami. If you do not believe me just go back and watch the Kentucky game, it only took one sequence for that game to get out of hand and against a team chocked full of talent, getting back into the game becomes difficult or even impossible.

One other area of concern is the lack of output from big man Steven Enoch. Enoch had 6 points and 2 rebounds in just 13 minutes on the floor. This time the lack of minutes was not due to fouls but due to the standout play of Malik at the Center spot. Coming into the season I expected The Enochness Monster to have his way with opposing big men and even test the NBA waters and there is still plenty of time for that to be the case but at the moment I think you have to start to wonder if Malik will work his way into that starting Center position.

In closing following a slow start that Nwora singly handily brought the team out of, the second half while led by Malik became a more well-rounded team effort with all expected contributors making an impact in one way or another. The play of the game easily goes to the nasty one handed dunk by Nwora from a lop from McMahon (video below). next up for our Cardinals is a road trip up to Pitt on January 10th. Until then Go Cards…Go Krogering (via Clicklist)…L’s Up.