Chris Jones has been getting to the gym at 7:30 every morning the past week, working on the fundamentals, paying more attention to Coach Rick Pitino than the coach was giving Jones credit for during Friday’s press conference.
He’s got the message, Coach, taking it to heart, telling UofL play-by-play announcer Paul Rogers after UofL’s hard-fought 85-67 win over Wake Forest, “I know what we have to do to win a national championship. I’m all in.”
Jones said he was taking responsibility as point guard for running this team, getting the point guard thing down, getting the ball to open teammates. Playing 36 minutes at full speed, Pitino said Jones played brilliantly. He had no choice, not with Terry Rozier playing in foul trouble and Wake Forest clamping down on Montrezl Harrell.
The most crucial basket he made may have come after Wake Forest had clawed back, taking a 69-68 lead at the 5:19 mark. Slipping through all the congestion, he would put UofL back on top to stay. Then he would sink two free throws and find Harrell beneath the basket, and suddenly Louisville was ahead 76-71.
For the game, Jones would be credited with an amazing 10 assists to going with his 22 points, three steals and four rebounds. Working on his game, getting better.
Harrell, taking the ball the length of the court at one point, all but unstoppable in the first half. Connecting on seven of 10 field goal attempts, including a couple of three-pointers, for his first 20 points. Wake Forest double-teaming him in the second half, allowing him only five more points.
Rozier, limited to 25 minutes of playing time because of foul trouble, would keep Louisville out of trouble while he was in, scoring 10 of his 18 points in the second half.
Devin Thomas, of Wake Forest, was having the game of his life, getting to the basket with ease with UofL’s revolving trio of Anas Mahmoud, Mangok Mathiang and Chinanu Onuaku, taking them to school en route to a career high 31 points. They’re going to be under Pitino’s thumb during upcoming practices.
Listen to the Coach, guys, listen carefully.