Deng Adel finished with 20 points and freshman Jordan Nwora hit three threes and scored 10 points in a six-minute surge that gave No. 16 Louisville a 72-61 win over a scrappy George Mason team in David Padgett’s first game as the head coach of the Cardinals.
Another freshman, Darius Perry, chipped in with 17 points off the bench as the Cardinals, who were down by three at the half and 46-40 with nine minutes left, used a 12-0 run to spark a surge that saw them outscore the Patriots 32-15 over the course of the final 12 minutes.
It was a long way from being an auspicious start to Padgett’s tenure. Outside of Adel, the veterans struggled. Quentin Snider had 10 points and three assists, but he shot 4-for-11 from the floor and turned the ball over twice. V.J. King had some hype in the offseason, but he did not look like he approved much, if at all, from last season, while both Anas Mahmoud and Ray Spalding struggled to make an impact on the offensive end; their length in the lane, however, was as effective as always.
“I was really proud of our guys, we couldn’t throw it in the ocean to start the game, but we hung in there, relied on our defense at the end of the game,” Padgett said after the game.
And in the end, that’s what really matters with this performance.
The Cardinals, in what may be the toughest spot for any team in the country this season, survived a slow start to their first game without their Hall of Fame head coach and got out with a win. The play of their veterans will come around. Their freshmen weren’t overwhelmed by the moment. And Louisville will head into the first full week of the season with a 1-0 record to build on.
All things considered, that’s not a bad way to start the season.