Louisville basketball: Cards rally and escape with last second win

Chris Mack the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Chris Mack the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Louisville basketball dodged a huge bullet to get back into the win column after a two game slide.

Louisville basketball rallied late against Clemson to win after two disappointing losses to Florida State and Duke. The concern coming out of the two losses became apparent more than ever. Louisville’s inability to handle pressure was and maybe still is an issue that plagues this team.

However, unlike the two losses in which the Cards blew opportunities, they were able to make the plays necessary to win the game late, barely.

As far as the game itself, there wasn’t exactly a rhythm to the game. The game never really felt like it was going to be a typical one where the opponent hangs around for a couple of minutes but Louisville eventually makes a run to pull away. Around the 10 minute mark in the first half was when fans may have started to become uneasy.

The second half however looked better than the first, but the Cards struggled to finish around the rim allowing Clemson to hang around.

It was encouraging however to see Christen Cunningham takeover during a stretch where the Cards were not getting anything on offense.

Another positive from this game was Perry’s play down the stretch. Now, he did make a few mistakes, but overall he made some crucial plays with 5 minutes left in the game. Perry had a few opportunities to get out and run off of a missed basket or turnover, but rather than taking on three defenders on the break, pulled it back to wait for the rest of the team and set up the offense.

The bigs however had a rough day, they did snag a few big rebounds late and Malik Williams made an important block with a minute to go. However, it felt like they were sleepwalking on offense throughout a majority of the game. However, I am more than confident that the bigs will fix it because they have shown the ability to make an impact in games.

MVP: As the Cardinals struggled to get anything going on offense Christen Cunningham decided to takeover and make big plays to help inspire his team in the game. The two plays that stood out was the drive for the and-1 opportunity and the three with the shot clock expiring and nothing was materializing.

LVP: The least valuable player has to be not a player, but rather Louisville’s struggles against pressure defenses. As a Louisville fan, it is ironic that after almost 15 years of being known as the team that brought the heat after a made basket, the Cards now struggle with pressure. That being said, there were a few positive take aways as far as breaking the press, the one that received the most audible reaction from the fans at the game was when Ryan McMahon caught the ball on the wing from a pass from CC, and drove the ball to the center of the floor and before passing it to Malik for a wide-open dunk. The cards would then continue to struggle against the pressure in the closing seconds of the game, even turning it over with the game on the line, but as Coach Mack stated in the post-game presser they’re taking baby steps.

X-Factor:  The X-factor in this game had to be Darius Perry. Perry was still prone to making errors, but this is the second game now where Darius has started to come out of his funk. The key for Darius is to trust his teammates and he definitely showed signs of growth and maturity when he opted to wait for the offense to catch up to set up an offensive possession rather than going for the questionable play. If he has the ability to realize that he can do some serious damage swinging for singles instead of swinging for the home run every time, this teams ability to put pressure on opposing defenses gets exponentially better.