No. 1 Louisville (for now) rips Eastern Kentucky

A little playing time for highly touted David Johnson, the freshman guard from Trinity. Seventeen minutes, in fact, only two fewer minutes than starter Darius Perry. Johnson had five points, six rebounds, two assists and a foul (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

By Ed Peak

Winning makes everything better, as Malik Williams, Jordan Nwora and Darius Perry demonstrate after leaving the game with a 30-point lead (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Let it be known that Eastern Kentucky is a believer in this University of Louisville basketball team. The Cardinals blitzed the Colonels 99-67 in front of 16,000-plus at the KFC Yum Center on Saturday.

 
“I understand why they are No. 1,” said EKU coach A.W. Hamilton.
“They are really, really good. After losing the other night, they were hungry today. I think they will contend for a national title.”
 
Not surprising Hamilton and his team were impressed. Louisville shot 63 percent from the field, out rebounded the Colonels 35-24 and had 22 assists. Jordan Nwora led UofL (10-1) with 26 points while Steven Enoch added 23 points and seven rebounds.
 
“Nwora, he’s an NBA player,” said Louisville native and EKU guard Jacquess Hobbs. “Nwora is really, really good,” said Hamilton.
 
Nwora made 10 of 14 field goals, all three of his free throws, had seven rebounds and three assists. Much different than his four of 16 effort against Texas Tech.
 
Eastern (3-7) trailed 21-16 but the Cardinals broke away for a 50-32 halftime lead. This game was never in doubt. The loss was the fourth straight.
 
“They’ve got veteran guys who understand their roles,” said Hamilton. “They have a little more talent than we have.”
 
One alarming thing for Louisville was 16 turnovers. Teams seem to want to press the Cardinals and they’ve had some problems. Next up is Miami, Ohio (4-5) here Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. We’ll see if the press still bothers this team.
 

Louisville allows Pitt to hang around before blow out

Coach Chris Mack orchestrated the University of Louisville basketball team to its ninth win against no losses. That’s Jordan Nwora slamming one home in the top photo (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

By Ed Peak

Knew it wouldn’t take long. Pittsburgh came into the KFC Yum! Center Friday with every intention of knocking off No. 1 Louisville, leaving empty handed with a 64-46 loss. Anything but easy for the home teram

Malik Williams gets in on the dunking circus with one of his on in the first half. (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

The University of Louisville basketball team (9-0, 2-0) let a big lead slip away, allowing Pitt to get within 43-38 with 12:58 to play. But, as Pitt Coach Jeff Capel would note, “There is a reason they are No. 1.”

One of those reasons, defense. Louisville closed the game with a 17-4 run. It helped the Cardinals held Pitt to its season low point total.

Jordan Nwora led with 19 points, six rebounds and two assists. Every Louisville player had a 3-point basket in the first half. Nwora was the last to join that club just before intermission.

“I’ll bet Jordan didn’t even care,” said Ryan McMahon, who added 11 points, three rebounds and two assists. “Not only do we have a bunch of weapons. We’ve got a bunch of unselfish guys.”

And Nwora is just fine, thanks, after mysteriously hitting the floor in the second half, returning a few minutes later with a crushing dunk.

Louisville had 17 assists on 23  baskets. That’s a sign players are getting the ball to their teammates in the right position.

Malik Williams added 13 points and 11 rebounds in his best game since returning from an injury. “I’m healthy, just getting back into the flow, learning,” said Williams.

Dwayne Sutton only took four shots but had five rebounds and five assists and a blocked shot.

Louisville now readies itself for a Tuesday night game in the Jimmy V Classic in Madison Square Garden against last season’s NCAA runnerups, Texas Tech (5-3). “You can tell when you walk into the place. The history. I played there against Memphis I believe two years ago. We’re real excited about it,” said McMahon.

Texas Tech will be excited as well. They’d like nothing better than to knock off No. 1 under the bright lights of “the big apple.”

Gallery courtesy of Cindy Rice Shelton

Being No. 1 makes Louisville basketball big target

The KFC Yum! Center was on fire during player introductions Tuesday as the top-ranked University of Louisville basketball team hosted fourth-ranked Michigan in front of 21,762 fans. Flames light up the backboards on both ends of the court. Jordan Nwora, in top phots, led Louisville with 22 points and 12 rebounds in a win over Michigan (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

By Ed Peak

Almost cliche-ish, but it bears repeating.

Now that No. 1 Louisville has dispatched Michigan, Coach Chris Mack’s biggest challenge will be keeping his team humble and focused.

The coveted No. 1 ranking is nice. But means little. Believe me every team that comes into the Yum Center or every opponents arena the Cardinals visit will have extra incentive.

Mack said it following Tuesday’s win over Michigan. “We haven’t arrived or anything like that.” No it hasn’t. It is early December. This team as all teams will look different when March arrives.

The thing that stood out in the win over Michigan was defense. Louisville (8-0) held a team averaging over 80 points to 43 and a field goal shooting percentage in the 30 percent range.

Louisville and its massively loud fans made it difficult for Michigan to think straight. Most every time Michigan attacked the lane there was a Cardinal defender in the way.

Dwayne Sutton, Jordan Nwora, Steven Enoch, Malik Williams all had their moments. Guard Darius Perry was steady. Ryan McMahon would drive and would get fouled. Fresh Kimble and Samuel Williamson provided support off the bench.

“On some nights your offense isn’t going to be there. But your defense will,” said Mack.

Also give Michigan credit for its defense. Louisville was forced to take some ill advised shots. Nwora and Perry both took some off balanced attempts. This team is going to have to live with that. Mack said as much following a win over Akron over a week ago. “I can’t micro manage every shot.”

Pittsburgh (7-2) comes to the Yum Center Friday, 9 p.m. for an ACC game. You can bet the Panthers are chomping to get a shot at No. 1. You can bet Pitt fans remember No. 1-ranked Panther team that was knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten by UofL in 2009.

Should be interesting to see how the Cardinals handle success.

 

 

Kentucky favored by three points over UofL in unfriendly rivalry game

Photo by Mike DeZarn

By Ed Peak

No love lost between these two schools, and the outcome is always unpredictable.

I’ve been fortunate to cover the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry since it was renewed in 1994. Thank goodness for former coaches, Louisville’s Howard Schnellenberger and Kentucky’s Bill Curry and athletic directors Bill Olson and C.M. Newton.

Kentucky needed a boost in attendance to renovate Commonwealth Stadium to 65,000 seats in 1994.  Schnellenberger would play anyone, anywhere. He just wanted to play. Capacity at the renamed Kroger Field has since been reduced 60,000 seats.

The first several years the game was in Lexington because of the size of the fairgrounds stadium. Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium was christened in 1998 and first year coach John L. Smith was helpless as Tim Couch and the Wildcats trounced Louisville 68-34. It was a hot day in Louisville. Couch was hotter. He still holds the opponents stadium record for most passing yards in a game with 498. Gosh, he put on a show.

Continue reading “Kentucky favored by three points over UofL in unfriendly rivalry game”

Louisville football making up for lost ground

By Ed Peak

Your friendly correspondent pontificated on this website in August that the upcoming football season would be better than anyone thought, predicting up to five wins and an outside chance at a bowl game.

Not telling you I told you so. But low and behold, the University of Louisville is 6-4 and bowl eligible with two games to play. But no one could have foreseen this. Coach Scott Satterfield has clearly earned ACC Coach of the Year honors. Unfortuantely, that won’t happen because of undefeated Clemson and Dabo Swinney.

A friend told me early in the season that he didn’t care for Satterfield’s offense. “He runs high school plays, junior college plays,”  Well buddy, this Louisville team racked 62 points against Wake Forest, and is averaging 32.2 points and 437.2 total yards per game.

The offense led by sophomore Micale Cunningham has completed 63.2 percent of his passes and 14 touchdowns. That ranks fifth in the ACC. UofL leads the nation in yards per completion 17.06 with eight plays of 40 or more yards.

Sophomore Tutu Atwell, with his blazing speed, has 920 receiving yards,  Javian Hawkins, a redshirt freshman, has ground out 1,045 yards, needing only three more to break Victor Anderson’s record in 2008. The defense is still a work in progress, giving up an average of 432.4 yards a game and almost 28 points.

That is  still an improvement over last season’s run and hide defense. Satterfield has said every ACC win could go down to the wire and has. An onside kick flub here or there and we wouldn’t be talking this way.”We as coaches and players have to scrap and clew for everything we get,” he confided.

So enjoyable watching all those raucous locker room celebrations. Especially after all the doom and gloom last season.  There’s still more to come. Enjoy. It should be entertaining.