The Louisville men’s basketball team left for the Bahamas this past week in desperate need of a confidence booster after an uninspiring four-game stretch to open its season. On Thursday night, The Cards played their best game of the young season in a convincing 72-58 win over Mississippi State at the Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championship. Louisville improved its record to 4-1 while booking a spot in the championship game on Saturday morning.
— Louisville Basketball (@LouisvilleMBB) November 26, 2021
Samuell Williamson led all Cardinals with 15 points and 6 rebounds on 7-12 shooting. Dre Davis added 12 points and 7 boards. Jae’Lyn Withers was also in double figures with 11 points and 3 rebounds.
For Mississippi State, Iverson Molinar led all scorers with 17 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists. Tolu Smith added 10 points and 8 rebounds of his own. The Bulldogs made just 1 of their 15 three-point attempts and shot 33-percent in total from the field.
- This was never particularly close, with Louisville leading by double digits for the final 28:36 of the game. It was a dream start for the Cards who have struggled to build early leads so far this season. The energy in the game in general, but especially the energy on the court from the first minute, was a huge step in the right direction.
- Are we seeing early signs of a Samuell Williamson breakout? Thursday was Sam’s third time in five games scoring at least 13 points. Consistency is something he has still struggled with, but we are seeing these positive performances more often than not dating back to the end of last season. I’ve said that this team is waiting for someone to rise up and become a star. I continue to think there’s a chance that might be Samuell Williamson.
- Dre Davis heard the people calling for his starting spot, and the past two games have been nothing, but impressive for the sophomore forward. Davis was instrumental in the hot start on Thursday and appears to be locked into the starting lineup for now.
- The team-wide effort on the glass Thursday cannot be ignored. After struggling to rebound at times against mid-major talent through four games, Louisville came out in its first matchup with a power conference opponent and dominated the boards on both ends. It’s only one game, but it is nice to know that this team is capable of that kind of rebounding performance.
- Eleven different players saw time for Louisville against Mississippi State, and all of them played at least 10 minutes. This probably has a lot to do with the score being so lopsided for the entire second half. I still think that the rotation will look a bit different when Coach Mack returns next week, but no one on the team can complain that they have not been given a fair chance by Mike Pegues.
- Louisville has itself an opportunity to really make a statement on Saturday morning against Maryland. The Terps are probably just a middle of the pack Big Ten team and looked awfully ordinary in their game against Richmond on Thursday. Wins over Mississippi State and Maryland won’t necessarily be highlights on the resume in a few months, but winning a holiday tournament like this one could serve as a serious momentum shifter for the Cards this season. Louisville got on the plane to Nassau without any real reason to be excited about the season. Flying home with a 5-1 record and two wins over power conference opponents would certainly change that.
Louisville faces Maryland on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. on CBS Sports Network in the Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championship game.