One knows going into Morgantown the game will be a cliffhanger, hoping the outcome won’t be decided on another controversial call.
Of course, any call going against West Virginia will draw the ire of Bobby Huggins. So much so that he was spending more time hounding officials in the closing seconds than focusing on his team’s needs. Go ahead, Bobby, get it off your chest. The University of Louisville will take the 77-74 win.
Now we know why Rick Pitino has been contradicting himself about Wayne Blackshear’s status. While his unending pronouncements are maddening to U of L fans, he knows opposing coaches are also listening to every word. Blackshear was not in Huggins’ game notes.
- No player, no one, comes into a game looking that good after missing three and a half months of practice. Too much to hope for, doesn’t happen like that, never. ever. But there he was, Blackshear a totally different player from the one with zero points in 15 minutes in an exhibition game against Pikeville in October. Good for 15, including three three’s, four rebounds. No sense of a one-game phenomena either, so businesslike.
- Huggie had to know about Russ Smith. Not that that worked in Huggie’s favor, given the unpredictable nature of Russ. Sticking to the West Virginia guards like a mosquito on defense, zipping through miniscule openings on offense, those unorthodox shots the norm for him, adding up to 16 points.
- Kyle Kuric, minimized by West Virginia biggies around the board, one rebound in 25 minutes, but those four three-pointers keeping his team relevant. HIs 19-footer with 16:15, pulling U of L within eight, 53-45, the beginning of the comeback, the desperate run. His steal with eight seconds preventing a disaster. Two free throws with six seconds all but slamming the door.
- Peyton Siva like a surgeon weaving his way through the WVU defense early on, finding shooters often enough to get U of L out of the gate, four assists in the first half. Most of them before the Turk eruption and the West Virginia spurt. Four fouls, three turnovers, but not derailing anything in the process.
- Chris Smith continuing his steady production, making three of five three-point attempts, totaling 13 points. Those two free throws at the 1:39 mark oh so critical.
- Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan more than a little banged up by Deniz Kilicli, the Mountain in Mountaineers, the Angry Turk helping the U of L cause throwing ball in the air to collect a technical and a third foul. If Kilicli doesn’t go pro, he’s a natural for becoming a permanent West Virginia mascot, the look, the beard, just needs the long rifle and the chaps.
The other passionate fan in the house keeps saying over and over again she can’t believe U of L won that game, and she’s right. Still hard to believe. Heart is finally beating normal again. No sweeter place to win one than in Morgantown.