Louisville basketball “flipping script” after Notre Dame win

Carlik Jones #1 of the Louisville Cardinals (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Carlik Jones #1 of the Louisville Cardinals (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

An impressive win over Notre Dame was just what the doctor ordered for Louisville basketball on Tuesday night.

69. 438. Final. 57. 443

A surprising absence of star guard David Johnson was not enough adversity to prevent the Cardinals from defeating the Fighting Irish on Tuesday in a pivotal game for Louisville.

Coming off of a 45-point loss to North Carolina, there was a fair bit of doom and gloom within the fanbase as it pertained to the future of the team for this season. Could they rebound?

That would only be emphasized more leading up to tip-off when David Johnson did not warm up and was not present with the team.

Through it all, Louisville never trailed in this game. Not for a second. The same team that lost by 45 points three days ago and played without one of the better guards in the ACC Tuesday was never behind in this game.

Offensively, the Cardinals were able to take advantage of Notre Dame’s 1-3-1 zone defense to score in the midrange. Louisville was just 6-for-17 on layup attempts with Jae’Lyn Withers drawing some frustration due to some missed layups and dunks.

Louisville scored 28 of their points on non-layup two-pointers. Samuell Williamson was dominant as an option in the pocket of the Irish zone while Carlik Jones and Jae’Lyn Withers both hit their own shots inside the arc.

Jones paced five Cardinals scoring in double digits with 18 points. He also had four rebounds and four assists in what was one of his more impressive and efficient performances of the entire season.

Cardinals could be hitting their stride

In order to fulfill their potential, they will obviously have to flesh out a complete lineup. The hope is that David Johnson’s sickness is not serious and can return to the floor soon. He is going to be a key component down the stretch. Head coach Chris Mack may have suggested that it’s not an overly serious issue in his postgame presser.

Samuell Williamson was back to playing like he did prior to the most recent Covid pause as an efficient scorer and rebounder. He doesn’t just grab the “clear out” boards. There’s many instances of him skying over opponents or ripping the ball from the grasp of others. He has shown an edge over the past month that we’ve never seen from him.

Yes – Jae’Lyn Withers had some rough moments finishing around the rim. But he was as aggressive as ever on the glass with 13 rebounds. He’s been extremely inconsistent this season. It’s not surprising given his youth and difficulties playing out of position. With Malik Williams back in the starting lineup, this could be a possible breakthrough with him.

Speaking of Williams, he got a large lump sum of minutes on Tuesday; 26 to be exact. He’s getting closer to full strength and he looked more comfortable against Notre Dame. He hasn’t gotten his feet completely under him offensively. But – on defense – he looks much better rebounding  aggressively (10) and just staying in phase as a man defender.

Along with the great play of Carlik Jones on Tuesday, the three aforementioned players having big performances is extremely important to this team. Williams is coming along nicely while Withers thrived as a power forward in Chris Mack’s offense in his first opportunity to showcase at that spot.

Two weeks out from the ACC tournament, Louisville might be flipping the script with a surge of momentum heading into the home stretch.