Let me begin this post by saying this: I hate the University of Louisville.
So this was one of the sweetest wins I’ve watched in a long time and it bodes well for 2011.
Even though the Cats didn’t win by as much as I hoped with my 88-68 prediction, they were still able to dominate the dirty Cardinals in almost every facet of the game.
The hero of the game was surely Josh Harrellson with his amazing line of 23 and 14 but this win was a team effort.
Doron Lamb started off the scoring. He didn’t have the output that we’ve come to expect from him but he filled his role perfectly. He came off the bench and scored our first four points all while playing good defense and working for rebounds. His aggressiveness on the defensive end eventually took him out of the game with two first half fouls but he had done what was necessary to spark our offense.
Darius Miller also displayed a dominant will by attacking the basket and asserting himself as a leader of the team. Like Doron, he got into foul trouble but it’s the kind of foul trouble that Calipari likes to see because they were committed through hustle.
DeAndre showed that same hustle without racking up the personals like Darius. Liggins was seemingly everywhere on defense guarding the one through four position. The highlight of his performance was certainly his disgusting rejection of Peyton Siva in the lane.
Terrence Jones didn’t have the scoring explosion that most people thought he would need for UK to be successful but he still played a complete game. Even though he seemed to be lackadaisically going through the motions at the end of the first half and beginning of the second, Terrence stepped up when we needed him. He passed the ball out of the double team extremely well and rebounded the ball in traffic. He also provided a big boost for the Cats at the game’s start with some huge blocks.
Brandon Knight was his usual excellent self. It’s obvious that he’s not the same kind of point guard as John Wall but he is successful in a way that we never saw with John. His three-point and free throw shooting is such an amazing luxury to have. He stifled Louisville runs a couple times with some big threes and efficiently controlled the tempo of the game. His shooting and leadership was the main factor in the team’s ridiculous 51 percent shooting from the field and 88 percent shooting from the free throw line.
But like I said, this game was all Josh Harrellson. A lot of his buckets were courtesy of double teams on Darius and Terrence but he did hit a couple nice jumpers, including a three, as well as making himself available on alley-oops. If he can continue to be a offensive factor while still rebounding at the clip he’s established then this team may be a lot more successful than anyone predicted.
On the side of the Dirty Cardinals, Rick Pitino was absolutely over-matched from a coaching standpoint. Why he never adjusted to prevent the open shots by Josh will forever be a mystery to me.
Preston Knowles proved the he was ‘Pure Cardinal’ by providing the only offense spark for Louisville. I thought that he might make the game competitive in the second half but DeAndre quickly saw to it that he did not.
All in all, Louisville got beat because they hadn’t played a real game all season. UK has been tested and has played under pressure many times this season. Louisville looked like a team that was lost. With seven minutes left in the second half their players were slack-jawed and despondent. They didn’t know how to respond to what UK was doing to them. The most telling statement came with two minutes left in the game when Louisville didn’t even make an effort to foul. They had given up and nothing is sweeter than that for a true blue UK fan.