I don’t have the CBS Sports Network, but I am very glad I made the 20 minute drive to Portland to watch the game at my parents’ house. Gamecast updates or score alerts on ESPN just would not have done the trick. I would have missed out on maybe the best game that this team has played all season.
The title of this post was inspired by a tweet I sent out in the 2nd half while Russ Smith was making his ridiculous run.
Chris: I got the 1st half.
Russ: I will take the 2nd half.
Trez: I will dunk a lot in both.
— Justin Renck (@JustinRenck) March 6, 2014
That is really how this game felt, you know after the initial “14 point deficit” thing we had going on. From the start, Chris Jones was hitting his shots. He finished 6-14 from the field and 4-7 from 3. And he made two more 3s that didn’t count and probably went unnoticed by most. When Mangok Mathiang was called for the illegal screen, Jones knocked down a 3 that obviously was waved off. A couple possessions later when Jones got fouled, he shot a 3 after the whistle and made that one too. So I knew that even though those did not count, he was in some kind of zone this game. It was just what he needed after how the Memphis game ended.
Jones also had 6 steals in the game. His defense was awesome for the most part. His on-ball defense was great. Sometimes he denied the wings so much that he got beat backdoor, but that then falls on the help defender, who was not there so it makes it looks worse on Jones that he got beat in the first place. But overall, an excellent defensive effort from Jones.
The second half was all about Russ Smith. Actually it was more like the second half of the second half. Russ went 6-6 from the 3 point line, but his first one didn’t come until there was 13:02 to play in the game. So leading up to that point, there was a lot of Luke Hancock and Montrezl Harrell keeping the Cards in the game.
Russ’ second 3 pointer came on Louisville’s next possession, less than a minute. He then made one 40 seconds later on their next possession, so 3 possessions in a row! Russ then took some time off from nailing 3s, but not too much time. He made his next one with 6:31 to play and then another with 5:58 to play on the Cards’ next possession. He made his last one with 4:17 to play and this one gave Louisville a 10 point lead. So he made 6 three pointers in less than 9 minutes of game time.
Anyone mention that National Pancake Day was Tuesday March 4? (Pancacke, waffle…you get the point)
Russ was simply incredible in this game. He also added 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals. He had this to say afterwards.
Montrezl Harrell continued to play like a beast. He had 19 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block. He shot 7-9 from the field, mainly because most of them were monsterous dunks. He was also 5-8 from the free throw line for 62.5%. Not great, but his shot did look better. I heard Pitino say in his postgame radio interview that they fixed a couple mechanical things with his shot and also told him to concentrate on the rim and once he looks at it, don’t look away, stay focused on it.
Can’t forget about Luke Hancock in this one also. The senior captain only made 3-10 shots but he had 4 assists and 3 rebounds and still finished with 15 points. He made a big 3 pointer in the 2nd half run.
I think this game was just what the Cards needed after the Meltdown in Memphis. They got down by 14 in the first half and had to rally around each other to come back and win in a very hostile environment. We knew that place was going to be loud and it was. Great road win for the Cards, and now it’s time to take care of business against UConn on Saturday for Senior Day!