An understatement to say things weren’t going well for the University of Louisville basketball team, and they were getting worse.
There sat Quentin Snider on the bench, with a forlorn look on his face, dejected and unavailable. And for more than nine minutes, Clemson was having its way with UofL, jumping off to a 7-0 start, slamming the ball in the basket every other play, and extending the lead to 21-12.
At that point something happened, happened after Coach Rick Pitino called a 30-second time out. Something that could only be described as the Pitino effect. No other explanation. Someone other than Donovan Mitchell would start making baskets.
Deng Adel jumper. Jaylen Johnson layup. another Deng Adel jumper. Anas Mahmoud free throws. Deng Adel with a 3-pointer. Donovan Mitchell on a layup.
Less than five minutes later, Louisville had taken a 24-23 lead. The Cardinals would never trail again, smacking the daylights out of Clemson 92-60 before a crowd of 21,436 at the KFC Yum! Center. One of the most impressive in-game turnarounds in recent Pitino history.
Deng Adel, without a doubt playing his most complete game ever as a Cardinal, contributing 18 points, including two 3-pointers and three out of four free-throw attempts, and a couple of assists. This may have been the night that lit the switch for him.
Donovan Mitchell setting the tone in the first half, making all eight of his field goal attempts, including two 3-pointers, for all of his 18 points in the game. What was so encouraging, however, was that his “offensively-challenged” teammates picked up the slack in the second half while he was missing all seven of his shots and making zero points.
Looking fully capable of standing in at point guard until Snider makes it back to the floor, Mitchell would be credited with four assists, four rebounds, and three steals. “The thing with us is we accept those challenges,” said Mitchell. “We love those challenges. We’ll win this game and then we’ll move on to the next one.”
Pitino relieved and reinvigorated afterwards, but cautious about going to Florida State Saturday following a late night game and only day to prepare for the 2 o’clock encounter.
“It’s a different game with Quentin being out,” he said. “Normally we would have double sessions of practice before going into a game like Florida State but we can’t because of the late game.”
Always got that Pitino effect, however. It will be needed Saturday.