After missing four of its main players during Tuesday’s loss to Virginia, the No. 4 Louisville Cardinals had three of the four back against the visiting Miami Hurricanes. The biggest return was that of starting point guard Quentin Snider. Snider missed the last six games with a hip injury. He helped spur a second half rally with three big 3-pointers and finished with 13 points and four assists in 33 minutes of action.
The game did not start out well for Snider or any of his teammates as they found themselves in an 8 – 0 hole in the first five minutes of the game. It wasn’t until a Deng Adel 3-pointer 5:15 into the game that the Cards got their first points.
Miami drove right through the Cards’ defense time and time again during the first half, eventually leading by as many as 14 points. The Cards pulled to within seven at halftime 33 – 26.
Rick Pitino was not impressed with his team’s defensive effort and discipline. Tonight, Miami said we’re going to pick certain guys out, create movement, and we’re going to drive on that guy. We’re going to take that guy,” said Pitino. “I’ve been telling all of you all along that we’re a weak defensive team. I think tonight was the final straw for our players to see it. Then when we went match-up zone they kept losing and not doing the right things because they’re having a difficult time picking it up. This was a great lesson.”
Miami maintained their lead until 6:15 left in the game when Donovan Mitchell’s 3-pointer tied the game at 63. After Davon Reed missed a three, Mitchell missed a three, but Mangok Mathiang grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He made both free throws to give the Cards their first lead of the day at 65 – 63.
Mitchell made only 6 – 17 from the field, but did finish with 18 points and four rebounds.
Mathiang and Adel, both returning from their one game suspension, played solid games. Mathiang came off of the bench to score seven points and grab eight rebounds. Adel scored 18, with five rebounds, and three assists. Pitino said, “I thought the key to the game although Deng and Mangok played, I think Jaylen Johnson made the great lunch-pail plays when we needed him.”
Johnson played strong inside on the offensive boards grabbing four offensive rebounds and scoring 10 points.
The Cards now travel to New York to face Syracuse on Monday night at 7:00. The Cards are looking to stay in the hunt for one of the top four seeds in the ACC tournament. Louisville improved to 20 – 5 on the season and 8 – 4 in the conference.