One knew immediately the University of Louisville basketball team was in trouble when Malik Williams rolled his ankle two minutes and 29 seconds into the game. He realized it as well, hopping around to avoid the pain, heading directly to the locker room.
Williams, a UofL captain, is the closest thing to a genuine floor leader this team has. He leads by example, finally playing up to his potential in recent games, and his teammates respect and listen to him.
Tears running down his face as he returns to the bench. Uh oh.
Immediate outlook terrible — for him or his team in a road game against Florida State. A game helping to decide the winner of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s regular season. Would UofL win a conference title only five years after joining the ACC?
No. No way. Florida State would outscore Louisville 46 to 12 to close out the game, rolling to an 82-67 romp before 11,500 screaming partisans at Tallahassee. The Cardinals never had a chance in that that second half for numerous reasons:
- No post presence, not with Williams stuck on the bench, and Steven Enoch, recovering from an ankle injury himself, unable to contribute offensively or to stop anyone defensively.
- Shell shock again for Jordan Nwora. The all too familiar look on his face when things have gone sour for him. Unable to make a basket, dribble the ball, or make a decent pass when adversity strikes.
- Florida State getting automatic fouls on UofL every time the Seminoles attack the basket. Apparently irrelevant to the officials who is initiating the contact.
- David Johnson in early foul trouble again. Unable to hit free throws, complete passes. Turning the ball over six times.
- Ryan McMahon going cold after hitting three 3-pointers in the first half. Unable to find or create space for himself.
- Lamar “Fresh” Kimble dribbling. So much dribbling. Running circles around Florida State, all to no avail. Overlooking wide open teammates at times.
- All of these deficiencies getting worse, intensifying the longer Williams is confined to the bench. The Cardinals had lost their leader. Just a matter of time before Florida State catches up with them and delivers the crushing blows.