Things were going swell for the University of Louisville basketball team, amassing a 26-point lead over Pittsburgh early in the second half, the Cardinals possibly expecting the Panthers to roll over.
Or maybe it was just taking Kevin Stallings’ team until the 17:16 mark in the second half to figure out how to compete with Louisville. Fortunately, Pittsburgh would run out of clock, UofL hanging for an 85-80 decision before 21,558 fans.
A learning opportunity for the visiting Panthers, which may be better prepared when UofL travels to Pittsburgh for a rematch in less than two weeks on Jan. 24.
Not a big secret about how the Panthers made it a game — just get the ball to Jamel Artis and let him shoot. The 6-foot-7 senior, who had 11 points in the first half, would connect on 11 of 15 shots, including seven 3-pointers and six of eight free throws, for 43 points for the night.
“It was a tale of two halves,” said Coach Rick Pitino afterwards. “We played brilliantly in the first half. But in the second, we constantly got beat on the dribble. Our guys kept backing up and letting them have 3-point shots.”
Pittsburgh would, in fact, make eight 3-pointers in that second half, winding up with 12 for the game.
“Our team this year is fundamentally not very sound,” said Pitino. “We are a rebuilding team. But when I say rebuilding, I mean we have to rebuild this year. I’m very disappointed in how we attacked the 1-3-1 zone. Quentin Snider figured it out at the end and we were able to finish the game.”
Snider would lead the Cardinals in scoring with 22, scoring 11 of them in the second half. Donovan Mitchell, Deng Adel and Ray Spalding would contribute 15, 15 and 11 points, respectively.
The lack of fundamentals hindering UofL on a lot of fronts, including converting turnovers into points, missing numerous close-in shots, and losing focus on defense. “We’ve got a lot of work to do in a short period of time to improve the basics,” he said. “This is a great group of players to coach, great guys, but needing a lot of work.”
Pittsburgh looking forward to a second chance and even more time to figure UofL out, next time on the Panthers’ home court.