2013 magic returns, UofL basketball rips Clemson
The year 2013 will always be the Year of the Cardinal as far as University of Louisville fans are concerned. The Cardinals were clicking on all cylinders in all sports that year. Everything going right, with UofL on an upward trajectory in all important facets of the school’s development.
Rick Pitino’s men’s basketball team defeated Michigan for the NCAA national championship. Charlie Strong’s football team defeated second-ranked Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Dan McDonnell’s baseball team competed in the College World Series. Jeff Walz’ women’s basketball team competed in the NCAA championship against UConn. President Jim Ramsey and Athletic Director Tom Jurich landed a spot for Louisville in the prestigious Atlantic Coast Conference starting in 2014. Donations to UofL were at all-time highs. Athletic facilities were being expanded, including the football and baseball stadiums.
Those were the days 15,121 fans at the KFC Yum! Center and thousands more throughout the community were celebrating Saturday night. Almost every player from that 2013 team was on hand to celebrate that magnificent accomplishment. Peyton Siva, Luke Hancock, Stephan Van Treese, and Montrezl Harrell were there, Russ Smith couldn’t make it but Big Russ, his dad. was. There to remember great times, there to cheer on the current UofL team mired in one of the worst seasons ever.
A perfect night in every way, the magic returning to Louisville, the Cardinals dominating a good Clemson team, with a surprising 84-74 win. Their second ACC win of the season, their fourth of the season. The crowd heavily invested, willing their team to a rare win. A salute to Louisville basketball, a reminder that UofL basketball aspires to excellence, a promise that this program will inevitably return to its rightful place in the hierarchy.
The Cardinals (4-23, 2-14 ACC) led for nearly 29 minutes and were in control throughout the second half of the win over a Clemson team battling for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. But there was too much on Louisville’s side this night.
“They couldn’t have picked a better night where the fan support was unbelievable,” UofL head coach Kenny Payne said. “They got to do it in front of a championship team. The championship team is in the locker room with them right now celebrating. They picked a great night, unbelievable night, unbelievable fan support, unbelievable energy in the building. The way they played, the fight they played with. We’re going to make mistakes, but we can make up for it with effort and energy.”
The teams traded the lead throughout the first half before the Cardinals went on a crucial 11-2 run, turning a 32-28 deficit into a 39-34 lead with seven seconds left in the half. Louisville led 39-36 at the break. Clemson (19-8, 11-5) reclaimed the lead at 44-43 early in the second half, but the Cardinals dropped the hammer from there, using a 12-2 burst to go up 55-46 on a posterizing and-1 dunk by Traynor with 14:20 to go.
Senior guard El Ellis led Louisville with 28 points – giving him 82 total points over the last three games – while junior forward J.J. Traynor had a career night with 16 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Redshirt freshman forward Mike James added 13 points.
A rare win to savor for the 2023-24 team, inspired by one of the greatest teams in UofL history. The Year of the Cardinal, 2013 Louisville could do no wrong 10 years later.