Montrezl Harrell, James Michael McAdoo

Louisville’s win at Cincinnati shows they can make another run

Leave a comment

By knocking off No. 7 Cincinnati on the road for an American Athletic Conference win on Saturday, No. 11 Louisville earned its biggest win of the season and came back to beat a Bearcat team that beat them at home earlier in the year. It was Louisville’s first win over a ranked opponent on the season.

But the Cardinals have the be pleased with the way a number of components are rolling right now and they hope a few more pieces step up as Louisville tries to make another run.

During the Cincinnati game, Louisville struggled to shoot three-pointers and free throws but their season percentages are far higher for both numbers and they still shot 40 percent from the field in a slow tempo game. The Cardinals also held a great Cincinnati team off the glass as best they could and fought with a really tough team at home.

Russ Smith is another big reason why Louisville should be liking its chances right now. The senior has gone from being considered by some as a third team All-American last season to an easy All-American candidate this season.

The senior guard is averaging a little less in scoring, but his field goal percentage is up to 46 percent from 41 percent and his three-point percent is up from 32 percent to 37 percent. With the loss of Peyton Siva, it’s been Smith’s improved ability to make plays for others that also stands out. Russ is up to 4.5 assists a game after averaging 2.9 a game as a junior. His leadership and big-play ability late in games is great for Louisville’s chances.

Montrezl Harrell is also active and energetic enough to be a consistent inside presence on both ends of Louisville. His ability to rebound, block shots and finish on the interior is huge for Louisville.

The Cardinals also have enough wings that can shot it and handle it that makes their depth solid going into March. Chris Jones, Terry Rozier, Luke Hancock and Wayne Blackshear combine with Smith to form some potent three- or -four-guard sets where Louisville can spread the floor and attack or use its speed in the trademark press.

The great thing about this group is they shoot well from the outside and can hit shots, they can defend and force turnovers and they can finish after creating turnovers or create for others.

Part of the reason Louisville’s offense has been so consistent has been the ability of this core group after Smith and Harrell to play well each game.

When you include serviceable minutes from Stephen Van Treese, emerging minutes from freshman Mangok Mathiang and Louisville has a rotation of eight guys with solid roles and lead guys in Smith and Harrell who are capable of another deep tournament run.

Louisville still needs to get some more wins against top-25 level competition but this positive stretch of play and good win against Cincinnati show that the Cardinals are playing their best ball of the season and they’re capable of getting hot right now and making another run.

VIDEO: Kentucky’s ‘Dancing Guy’ has scary fall while carrying girl

Leave a comment

Kentucky’s ‘Dancing Guy’ has turned into a fan favorite at Rupp Arena.

Every home game, during one of the TV timeouts in the second half, ‘Mony Mony’ will come on, Dancing Guy will hop into the aisle and he’ll break it down like only a middle-aged white guy from Kentucky can.

As you can see, it didn’t quite go all that well for Dancing Guy on Tuesday night, as he tried to do a rail slide while holding a young, female fan and completely ate it.

Here’s another angle of the fall:

It looks much scarier that it actually was, as all reports indicate that everyone made it through the fall healthy.

No. 5 Xavier stumbles at Creighton, lose 70-54

Creighton's Cole Huff (13) and Toby Hegner, left, guard Xavier's Jalen Reynolds (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Leave a comment

Mo Watson went for a career-high 32 points, seven boards and five assists as Creighton jumped out to an early 21-4 lead and never looked back, beating No. 5 Xavier, 70-54, in Omaha on Tuesday night.

 

It was a massive win for the Bluejays, who still have an outside shot at earning an at-large bid this season. (We wrote all about that here.)

As well as Creighton played, the bigger story here may actually be Xavier, who lost for just the third time this season; they had been the only top ten team with just two losses to their name.

The issue for the Musketeers tonight was two-fold, but they both are a symptom of what could be an issue down the road for this team: Xavier doesn’t really have a true point guard.

They certainly didn’t have anyone to stop Watson. By the second half, they had essentially asked Reynolds, who was playing the middle of their 1-3-1 zone to matchup with Watson. It was weird but was actually somewhat effective.

The Musketeers also started out ice cold from the floor, missing 11 of their first 13 shots, and those misses led to leak outs from Bluejays, who got layups and open threes in transition to build that 17 point lead. Once Xavier got behind, it turned into scramble mode for Xavier. They forced shots early in the clock and didn’t start pounding the ball into the paint until it was too late. What they needed was someone to be able to settle things, to ensure that offensive would get initiated and sets would get executed when they were able to get the lead down to single digits.

That 1-for-19 shooting performance from beyond the arc certainly didn’t help matters, and neither did the fact that they got just nine field goals all game from players not named James Farr or Jalen Reynolds. The most frustrating part for head coach Chris Mack? They had good shots. It wasn’t like Creighton took away everything that Xavier wanted to do.

The kids just had one of those nights where nothing went down.

Those happen.

And when you combine them with a total inability to contain the opposing team’s point guard, what you get is a 16 point loss on the road against a team that was desperate to get a good win.