Louisville Basketball: Cards split two Top 25 match-ups

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 23: Steven Enoch #23 of the Louisville Cardinals takes a free throw during the second half of the game against Marquette Golden Eagles at the NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament at Barclays Center on November 23, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 23: Steven Enoch #23 of the Louisville Cardinals takes a free throw during the second half of the game against Marquette Golden Eagles at the NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament at Barclays Center on November 23, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Big Monday games with all their hype and buildup are always exciting but it meant a long time between games for Louisville Basketball this past week. This felt like all the makings for a slip up somewhere with back to back Top 25 road games.

How much do I love the University of Louisville? Monday I started a new job for the first time in 14 years, as nervous as I was it was knowing I was going home to watch this overachieving and tough Louisville team play in a Top 15 matchup on Big Monday that kept me grounded. This was one of those weeks we look at when the Louisville Basketball schedule is released and think “Maaaaaan, there could be a trap game here somewhere.” As the Cards were  fresh off a loss at YUM! to Top 10 ranked UNC, it was now time for Big Monday matchup on The Mothership on the road with the 11th rank Virginia Tech Hokies.

The game never really felt close for me. The Cards jumped out to a 14 – 4 lead at the 12 minute mark and just never really looked back. Louisville was a very balanced attack against VT. with Mr. Dependable Dwayne Sutton and everyone’s favorite winking sharp shooter Ryan McMahon led the UL offense with 17 a piece, with Nwora right behind them with 15, and The Enochness Monster Steven Enoch bounced back from the UNC game with 10 points including 2-2 behind the arc as “3noch” continues to make teams pay for leaving him open behind the arch.


Starting a new job and not another Louisville basketball game until Saturday is a perfect recipe for a long week. Going into Saturdays matchup with number 22 Florida State the narrative on the local call in sports talk shows took a turn to, and I am paraphrasing here, something along the lines that Louisville had gotten several lucky breaks in ACC games this season with players from other teams missing games when UL plays them and this FSU squad was different as they were just getting back to full strength and still a few hours before tip off I told my wife I was starting to get worried that I was not worried at all for this game.

Even at halftime with Louisville holding FSU to just 25 points and clinging to 6 point lead something was beginning to feel off to me and the nerves crept right in. In the second half, FSU took a page out of UNC’s game plan against Louisville in the rematch and really turned on the hard nosed, in your face defense that really seems to rattle the Cards. Louisville went on to score 3 more points in the second half than they did in the first but the turnovers mounted and FSU really capitalized scoring 40 points in the second half forcing OT in Tallahassee and with Louisville rattled FSU pulled out the 5 point win at home, a place they have loss at once this season and that was on a last second three by UNC.

Looking at Louisville’s stat sheet after the game, one would think it was a Louisville win as nothing really stood out with one gleaming exception of the extremely high number of turnovers. Louisville shot the ball well at 48% from the field and 43% from three, won the rebounding battle 36-34, but the 32 points FSU scored on the 23 turnovers they forced Louisville into was the game changer. If you were reading a FSU blog before the Louisville game tip-off I am certain the first key to victory would be for FSU to take care of the ball and they did that only turning it over 8 times against the Cardinals. Louisville got big games from floor general Christen Cunningham (20 points, 6 assists, and 7 rebounds), and ofc course the combo of Sutton(14 & 6) and Nwora(13 & 5) but could just not take care of the ball or really get into an offensive flow.

The Good Times:

  • Jordan Nwora’s current fixation on catching a body every game. We all know Jordan can score the ball in a multitude of different ways but him currently cramming on someone every game always gets me up of the couch and screaming like a mad man freaking out my dogs.
  • Louisville basketball becoming the first team this season with 2 top 12 road wins this season. That more than likely is why I was so confident going into the FSU, I lost track of my own in advice to never expect an easy game in the ACC this year especially on the road against a nationally ranked team.
  • Lipscomb continues to win and climbing in all the NET rankings making Louisville’s early season win over them look all the more impressive. Keep winning Bison!
  • Steven “The Enochness Monster” Enoch’s touch from the outside. When a 6’10 big man can step out and shoot the three with the touch of Enoch it is a huge plus. Teams continue to leave Enoch open from deep will regret it.
  • Ryan McMahon is shooting the ball at a high clip from nearly any spot on the floor. Ryan’s range and sharp shooting is an option for this Louisville team that opponents are going to have to respect or continue to get burned.
  • Shoutout Adam Sandler for coming through the Louisville practice before in concert in Louisville this past week. All these likable celebrities coming through practice really helps change the way the university is viewed on a national level.

What Gave Good Time Charlie the Blues:

  • I hate when my favorite team takes a loss as much as the next guy but there is no shame in losing to a Top 25 ACC school on the road. Twitter should add a setting to where a Louisville fan cannot log on for somewhere between 12-24 hours following a loss.
  • With 15 against Virginia Tech and a crippling 23 against FSU the Cards turnovers stay a concern as Louisville  continues to struggle taking care of the basketball. One positve that stands out here is against FSU even with the 23 turnovers Louisville stayed in the game because they did everything else very well. To turn the ball over that many times against a ranked team on the road and have to blow a 10 point lead to lose in overtime is still pretty impressive.
  • The schedule gets no easier. We are in the home stretch of the regular season (sad face emoji) and the ACC is really good this season. Last projections I saw had 8 ACC teams in the tournament but there is a lot of beating up on each other that has to happen before those are set in stone.
  • My dude Enoch only grabbing 5 rebounds total in these two games. While the stepping out and knocking down three’s is a very nice he is too big and too good in the post to not be pulling in more boards for the Cards.

Going 1-1 this week may not have been what I expected it is still over achieving for a team voted to finish 11th in the ACC in the preseason. Louisville did not play bad in either of these games, so there is plenty to build off of and Mack and staff will need to build something quick with the highly ranked Zion Williamson’s coming to town on Tuesday night. Fresh off of the clean sweep of their home and home and Virginia, Duke comes into the Yum Center this week feeling pretty confident. If nothing else this matchup will really tell us how good this Louisville team is if they could pull off a resume highlighting win over The Blue Devils. Louisville will close out the week down at Clemson in what may be the closest game to a “sure thing” the Cards would have on their schedule this season but, Clemson is coming off a pretty convincing win over Virginia Tech over the weekend Louisville has to know there is very little room for errors the size of 23 turnovers. Until next time Card Nation, Go Cards and L’s Up!