ACC Basketball

Cardinals Crush Canes NCAA Dreams

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

WHAT JUST HAPPENED:
Down 13 early and by 10 at the half, the Louisville Cardinals rallied in the second half, behind a 12-0 run, turning the game into a dog fight down to the end. Yet, while Miami was fumbling away their win, Chris Jones was hitting shots and Montrezl Harrell was draining free throws. The Hurricanes still had a chance to win it, down two at the end, but Angel Rodriguez could not hit the game-winning three.

FOUR DEEP THOUGHTS:

  • Oh Angel. Actually, oh Jim Larrañaga. The Hurricanes had two chances to win this game at the end. Down one, there was plenty of time to run a good play out of  a timeout. Yet, the ball got into Denandre Burnett’s hands. He drove to the basket, was not beating his man in the process, before slipping and traveling. Turnover. Is that really what the call was? Give the ball to a freshmen, who had played just 59 minutes of basketball since mid-January, known for shooting threes, and then have him attack the basket against a good defender? Yet, Miami still had another shot. With eight seconds to go, down two, Angel Rodriguez had the ball. At that point, every Hurricane fan was screaming “anyone but Angel!” Yet, coming out of another timeout, Rodriguez got the ball going the wrong away, thus assuring there would be no time for a pass. This means the worst shooter over the last month on Miami’s team would be taking the final shot. Even though Angel was able to shake Chris Jones and get a good look, you just knew it was not going in. Prior to that shot he was 1-11. Hell, since beating Duke, he is just 22-101 from the floor. Bad decision making, coach.
  • Offensively the Cardinals were really out of sync early on. Montrezl Harrell was getting doubled and tripled teamed in the middle, spending more time looking at the refs for calls than the rim. The guards, Terry Rozier and Chris Jones were playing selfish, either putting up quick threes or driving into traffic for acrobatic misses. The pair began the game 1-9 from the floor. Chris Jones in particular looked disinterested, like a man trying to get his coach back for suspending him. As a team, the Cardinals didn’t have a single assists until after the 18-minute mark in the first half. That’s brutal.
  • In the second half, Rick Pitino’s squad came out firing. They opened up the half on a 17-3 run, hitting four threes in the process (including one by Harrell, something I’m sure his coach just loved). The trick was both Harrell and Jones running through the offense, instead of playing a solo act. The pair scored 26 of the Cardinals 36 second half points.
  • Defensively it looked like the same old Cardinals. Early on their press did nothing and against Miami’s bigs, Pitino’s own bigs were pretty meaningless. Chianu Onuaku started, but was replaced quickly after being out of position a couple of times. Manqok Mathlang wasn’t any better, before the Cards went deep into the bench playing Anas Mahmoud, who desperately needs a couple of milkshakes. Yet, down 21-10 with 10 minutes to go in the half, Louisville finally produced some steals, back-to-back in fact, something they have struggled with lately. For the game, they ended up with nine steals, forcing 13 turnovers, the same amount they had in their previous three contests. While the steals only help deliver nine points, it certainly played a big part in disrupting the Hurricanes offensive flow.

RANDOM NOT-SO-DEEP THOUGHTS:

  • Sheldon McClellan should be the go-to guy. He’s the team’s best scorer, by far with Angel Rodriguez struggling. For 30 minutes, he scored 17 on 13 shots. However, he took just one shot in the game’s final 10 minutes, missing the layup.
  • After hitting just 3-9 from the FT line in their loss to Syracuse, Montrezl Harrell went back to the gym when they returned to Louisville. The extra time paid off as he hit 6-10, including three in the final minute to seal the deal.
  • I don’t think Harrell should have been called for a flagrant 1 for nailing Tonye Jekiri in the face. I think it’s clear as he was coming down with the ball he thought he was about to land out of bounds (even though he wasn’t close). He was simply trying to not turn the ball over. Jekiri’s face just got in the way.
  • Despite the win, Terry Rozier continues to struggle. He was just 3-15 from the floor (0-4 from deep). In his last five games, he’s hit 23 of 76 shots (30%) and just 4-16 from deep (25%).

LOOKING AHEAD:
The Hurricanes have lost five of eight and miss out on a huge signature road win. Right now, they are not going to get a tournament invite, but the season is not over yet. Miami has four games remaining, including two against North Carolina (a guaranteed tournament team) and Pittsburgh (a possible tournament team).

Louisville ends their two game slide and remains tied with North Carolina for that all-important fourth spot in the ACC. The Tar Heels have an easier road ahead, so it’s important that Louisville wins their next two over inferior foes (Georgia Tech and Florida St.), both on the road.

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