Louisville can’t get motivated for Georgia Tech

Poor guys just couldn’t get excited about playing Georgia Tech and it may have cost them dearly.

Four days after the University of Louisville basketball team turned in one of its best performances in a decade, the Cardinals sank to a new low against Wednesday  in Atlanta, losing to Georgia Tech 64-58.

The lack of concern, the restrained exertion, finally caught up with them against Georgia Tech.

Georgia who? The worst thing a team on a 10-game winning streak can do is not respect an opponent. Louisville had won the last nine games against Georgia Tech, not having lost to the Yellow Jackets since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014.

Lowly Georgia Tech is No. 74 in the Sagarin Ratings, No. 81 in the NET rankings, No. 91 in ESPN’s College Basketball Power Index (BPI) and No. 81 by Ken Pomeroy. A team sucking tail in every important barometer.

What reason would fifth-ranked Louisville have had to take Georgia Tech seriously?  Well, for one thing, the Cardinals barely defeated the Yellow Jackets by four points at home a couple of weeks ago.  UofL was lucky to win that one, and Josh Pastner’s troops were propelled by adrenaline, playing way above their heads and talent level.

In its two games against Louisville, Tech held the lead for 64:59 of the 80 minutes. The Jackets never trailed on Wednesday.

What this UofL team has proven, time after time, is that it will play up or down to the level of the competition. That, in fact, is the only consistent thing one can expect from them. Get excited, play tough against the traditional toughies, i.e., Duke and Virginia. Take it easy, survive against teams like Pittsburgh and Wake Forest.

The lack of concern, the restrained exertion, finally caught up with them against Georgia Tech. The loss may well have cost them UofL’s first regular season ACC championship, as well as shots as No. 1 or No. 2 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.

That should have been enough to motivate most teams to get excited about playing Georgia Tech. But not this one, and the odds of a conference title and a top seed are fairly remote for now.

Kimble more comfortable in new role at Louisville

Coach Chris Mack was mentally preparing his halftime remarks with his team falling farther behind during the first half against Wake Forest, the last place team in the ACC (Cindy Rice Shelton photos)>

One has to conclude that Lamarr Kimble has become comfortable now with his role on the University of Louisville basketball team, following UofL’s hard fought 86-76 win over Wake Forest.

Ryan McMahon makes good on this 3-point attempt and a free throw for a four-point trip during a second half comeback (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Kimble, a graduate transfer who was a co-captain for three seasons and a two-year starter at St. Joseph’s, played a key role in Louisville’s 21st win before a crowd of 15,270 at the KFC Yum! Center.

He would score UofL’s first four points in the second half, sending a signal that the Cardinals weren’t going to roll over. Reducing the deficit to 11 points and changing the momentum of the game. Five minutes later, he was pulling a rebound, throwing a full-length court pass to Jordan Nwora, his teammate making the dunk that would give Louisville the lead.

Jordan Nwora the leading scorer for Louisville with 21 points, including the dunk that capped a comeback in the second half (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

That go-ahead pass to Nwora following a 3-point goal by Ryan McMahon, the player Kimble replaced a few games ago. McMahon was fouled on the play, hitting the free throw for a four-point trip.

Kimble has played with increasing confidence in recent games, affirming the trust Coach Chris Mack has instilled in him. He is beating the college basketball odds, retaining his starting position despite some impressive performances by freshman David Johnson.

Kimble scored a total of 14 points, grabbed four rebounds and was credited with four assists.

Nwora would lead all scorers with 21 points, making five of eight from deep and six of 12 overall. Dwayne Sutton added 15 points and 11 rebounds, McMahon 12 points and Steven Enoch and Malike Williams 11 points apiece. 

Bionca Dunham at her best against Pittsburgh

Bionca Dunham photo by Cindy Rice Shelton

Bionca Dunham has started all 20 games for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team. She’s not a prolific scorer or rebounder so she doesn’t garner that much attention but Dunham makes her presence felt around the basket.

Jeff Walz happy with a balanced scoring attack with six Louisville players in double figures (Mike DeZarn photo).

UofL got off to a slow start against Pittsburgh on Sunday, falling behind 5-2 early, not getting a field goal until the 8:38 mark in the first quarter. That would be Bionca scoring her team’s first four points, hitting two free throws and making a layup.

Lots of games over four years, but few as fun as this one.

Dunham would have one of her better games in her Louisville career, scoring 12 points, grabbing six rebounds, making five assists and a steal. Louisville would defeat Pittsburgh 83-49 before a crowd of 11,624 at the KFC Yum! Center. UofL is now 20-1 overall and 8-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

A young Louisville fan has much to look forward in the years ahead (Mike DeZarn photo).

Elizabeth Balogun, Dana Evans, and Kylee Shook also scored 12 points apiece for the Cardinals, while Jazmine Jones added 11 points and Elizabeth Dixon chipped in 10. A well-balanced attack with Louisville credited with a total of 23 assists.

The Cardinals will play Notre Dame on Thursday night in South Bend, Ind., and then will host the USA Basketball Women’s National Team next Sunday at 2 p.m.


Perry leads way in Louisville win over Clemson

Top photo: Ryann Brill, the granddaughter of UofL scoreboard operator Mike Geutig. Bottom photo: Darius Perry with three of his 19 points (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

With the recent emergence of David Johnson as a major presence for the University of Louisville basketball team, not surprising numerous observers  speculating Darius Perry to a backup role. Sorry  to disappoint, but the second guessers are going to have to wait.

Johnson impressive in the last three games, so good in fact that he had effectively raised overall expectations UofL. Coming out of obscurity to lead his team past Duke, with 19 points in Durham a week ago. Following that up with more  sizzle the other night against Georgia Tech.

Coach Chris Mack not ready to make any major changes just yet, keeping Perry in the starting lineup against Clemson on Saturday. Either emboldened by his coach’s trust or responding to the peer pressure, Perry played the best game of his career on Saturday.

Behind Perry’s shooting, he would score eight of his team’s first 11 points, including two 3-pointers, Louisville would race to a 47-26 lead at half time. Perry would lead all scorers with 19 points, grab five rebounds make one assist and a steal in 26 minutes of playing time. Some 15 of those points coming on five of six attempts behind the 3-point line.

Darius Perry impressing Coach Chris Mack with his offense and defense in Louisville’s win over Clemson (Mike DeZarn photo).
For the Coaches vs. Cancer Day, UofL coaches wore shoes honoring the memory of Jaxen Claxton, the 2-year-old son of strength coach Andy Claxton (Mike DeZarn photo).

Never any doubt. Louisville defeating Clemson 80-64 in front of 17,654 at the KFC Yum! Center on Saturday, improving its record to 17-3 overall and 8-1 in the ACC.

Bettors who had UofL as their college basketball pick against the spread were happy as well since they covered the spread.

“I’ve always been a team player,” Perry said afterwards. “None of the shots I took tonight were bad or uncontested. I was open and my teammates were getting me the ball and I took them.”

A breakthrough game as well for Samuell Williamson, a highly-touted freshman forward. Williamson would make good on five of six shots, including a 3-pointer, and two at the free throw line for 14 points.

The Louisville coach, pleased with the offensive output, was even happier with the defensive efforts of the two freshmen. “They are playing with confidence on defense,” he said. “I really thought our team played with tremendous energy throughout the game.”

David Johnson, meanwhile, coming up with five rebounds, six assists and eight points coming off the bench. 

Gallery courtesy of Cindy Rice Shelton

Malik Williams unpredictable but major force for Louisville

Louisville’s David Johnson is challenged by Georgia Tech’s Jose Alvarado (Cindy Rice Shelton photo). Malik Williams under pressure as he goes up for a shot (top photo by Mike DeZarn).

One almost always catches his breath when Malik Williams goes up for a shot, whether it’s from the field or the free throw line. The ball goes in the basket just often enough to keep him engaged and aggressive on offense.

Thank goodness. The gangling 6-foot-10 junior played a key role in the University of Louisville basketball team’s 68-64 win over Georgia Tech before a crowd of 15,001 at the KFC Yum! Center on Tuesday. Connecting on three out of four free throw attempts in the final 23 seconds to escape still another thriller. Unfortunate for UofL bettors as they did not cover the spread, but bettors with moneyline tickets were able to cash theirs.

Louisville’s big men may be unpredictable but they combined for 26 points. Steven Enoch goes up for two. (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

UofL made only 14 of 23 free throw attempts but Williams was seven of 12 making his final seven shots. He would tie Steven Enoch for team scoring honors with 13 points while pulling down six rebounds and blocking three shots. Has to be encouraging when Louisville’s big men are good for 26 points.’

Last week at Pittsburgh, Williams had nine points and eight rebounds. Against Duke, he added 12 points and seven rebounds, again making several key plays including a fast break dunk to seal the victory.

David Johnson again showing flashes of brilliance on offense but in foul trouble early, scoring 10 points in 15 minutes of playing time. Lots of energy and talent, but maybe needing more self discipline.

L’s up from two young Louisville fans beneath north basket (Mike DeZarn photo).

Jordan Nwora adding 10 points on three for 11 field goal attempts in 34 minutes.

Another close call, however, prompting some UofL fans to wonder whether the Cardinals are playing down to the competition’s level. Coach Chris Mack sharing the concern but noting that his team will never be physically dominating.

The win improves Louisville’s record to 16-3 and makes the Cardinals 7-1 in the ACC. Tied for the ACC lead with a one-loss Florida State team. UofL will host Clemson at 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon at the Yum Center.