He’s gone. Louisville fans can come out now

A nightmarish game straight out of basketball hell, but the University of Louisville basketball survives with a 57-55 win over UC Irvine. Could there have ever been an uglier game.

The towering 7-foot-6 Mamadou Ndiaye, casting a huge shadow across the court, presenting a huge barrier to the basket on the defensive end,  an ever-present distraction for UC Irvine on offense. The big guy, setting a block, lumbering to the basket, expecting a pass. Letting up on him always a mistake, just turning, throwing it down with sometime breathtaking authority.

Mamadou Ndiaye in your nightmares.
Mamadou Ndiaye in your nightmares.

Fortunately for Louisville, Ndiaye is not in great shape, needing frequent breaks, and getting only nine shots, making six of them for his 12 points. If he ever does get in shape, college basketball is in trouble. He’s just a sophomore, you know.

The box score doesn’t come close to reflecting Mangok Mathiang’s role in limiting Ndiaye because the final stats have Mathiang with no blocks or steals. Mathiang was busy knocking passes away, deflecting shots and depriving him of rebounds. As Rick Pitino said afterward, “Mangok played him perfectly.”

— Wayne Blackshear, sizing up the big guy, testing him, taking the ball to Ndiaye, refusing to let him be the deciding factor. “It was a little tricky,” said Blackshear, indicating he took advantage of Ndiaye’s clumsiness and slow reactions.

Blackshear becoming aggressive, driving the lane, bouncing off the big guy,  but getting some valuable buckets, paying the price a couple of times. He would lead all scorers, connecting on eight of 20 shots — two of eight from beyond the 3-point line — for his game-leading 19 points.

— Quentin Snider, embracing the challenge, wanting this game, contributing 13 points. None more important than those two free throws at the end. “I knew my team needed them,” he said. “We had to have them.”

— Montrezl Harrell, taking outside shots without success, managing only a couple of dunks. He invests a lot of energy after the slams and may want to save it for other parts of his game. Eight points in this one.

— Terry Rozier, the target of UC Irvine’s box-and-one defense, finding it more challenging getting to the basket of late. Give him half a crease, however, and he will burn the opposition. He would score a dozen and make a memorable steal, sealing the win.

Take a day off. Get Mamadou Ndiaye out of your system. The sooner the better.

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Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.