Montrezl Harrell played arguably his best game in a Louisville jersey on Saturday, taking over for long stretches of the second half and finishing with 25 points, 12 boards and three steals while shooting 11-for-17 from the floor.
Russ Smith was just as dominant in the first half, scoring 14 of his 19 points and finishing with five assists, five boards and three steals.
Luke Hancock didn’t play his best game of the season, but he did finish with 11 points and three assists.
The rest of the Louisville roster? 11 points, 3-for-19 from the floor.
And therein lies the issue for Louisville. They cannot be a three-man team and expect to be elite.
Here’s the kicker: Louisville still should have won on Saturday at No. 21 Memphis. They lost 72-66 after giving up a 15-1 run in the final three minutes. That’s how close Rick Pitino’s club came to knocking off a top 25 team on the road despite getting nothing out of their role players.
And this loss will hurt.
Louisville had a chance to take over first place in the American with Cincinnati’s loss at UConn earlier today.
The Cards have been one of the most improved teams in the country during the season, but much of that improvement came as Louisville was beating up on some of the lesser teams in the league. Their last two games in the regular season are at SMU and against UConn at home. Louisville had Memphis all-but beat on Saturday, but we’ll get a real feel for just how good this team is in their next two games.
What was the fluke? Taking control on the road despite having just three guys play well, or blowing a late lead to a top 25 team on the road?
Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.
Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.
Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.
The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.
John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.
We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.
For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.
Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.
As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.