By Beau Kilpatrick—
The No. 12 Louisville Cardinals lost a hard-fought battle against No. 10 Florida State. The Cards fell 73-68 against the Seminoles.
After yesterday’s game, Florida State has now beaten six ranked opponents in a row. That is a difficult task for any team in college basketball. Louisville gave the ‘Noles everything they could, except for Quentin Snider, and almost left Tallahassee with a win.
The Cards had the worst start imaginable to this game. It was only three minutes into the game and FSU had a 14-0 lead. The Cards slowly clawed their way back into this game and cut the lead to a single point on multiple occasions. However, without Quentin Snider, their starting point guard, and with four key players having four fouls or more, the Cards did not have the offensive firepower to overtake the best team in the ACC.
Snider is still suffering from a hip flexor injury he suffered during the Duke game a week ago and did not suit up for this game. He is the only true point guard that coach Pitino has, so the other guards have had to step up to fill the vacant position the best they can.
More on Snider’s injury: http://247sports.com/Article/Rick-Pitino-talks-Quentin-Snider-injury-replacements-50616131
The amazing thing about today is seeing the depth that Louisville has on the bench. The bench players outscored the starters 40-28. Tony Hicks has made the most of his extra minutes, due to Snider’s injury, by providing valuable points off the bench. Hicks led all Louisville production with 16 points.
Mangok Mathiang made this game two in a row where he is looking like the Mangok of old. He scored a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds, along with a steal and two blocks.
Deng Adel had an average game with 12 points but influenced a surge of energy into his teammates. David Levitch provided productive minutes with nine points and three assist.
Jaylen Johnson has struggled in the past two games. Yes, he is scoring in double digits and grabbing a good amount of rebounds, but he was ejected from the last game against Clemson and he fouled out of yesterday’s matchup. I don’t know if it is his attitude or laziness on defense, but Pitino needs to address these performances with the sophomore forward.
The worrisome thing about today’s game was the lack of production out of Donovan Mitchell. Two days ago the guy couldn’t miss. He was 8-8 and had 18 points in the first half against Clemson. Today? He scored six points (two were free throws) and shot 20 percent from the field. This inconsistency needs to be corrected for the Cards to make a run deep into the March tournament.
Florida State is on a roll. They are dominating the ACC and they have beaten six ranked opponents in a row. FSU is looking to run the table and win the ACC.
For full conference rankings: http://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/standings/_/group/2
The Cardinals have been experimenting with their lineup in the absence of Snider, who could be out another week or two. Snider is not the electric player that Russ Smith or Peyton Siva was. However, Snider is consistent. He will give you about 13 points per game, a few assists, and he is meticulous with ball control and setting up the offense. He is also a fantastic defensive guard that can pressure any ball handler in the nation. Snider could return as early as January 29 against NC State; at worst, he would return against Boston College on February 4.
Louisville will go on the road again this Tuesday, January 24, to take on Pittsburgh. The Cardinals beat Pitt a little over a week ago 85-80, on January 11. The Panthers are a physical team with two of the best shooters in the ACC. The absence of Snider will remain under the microscope as Pitino prepares his squad for the matchup. It would not surprise me to see Tony Hicks get the nod to start in the point guard position because of his recent dependability.
The Louisville Cardinals challenge the Pitt Panthers Tuesday, January 24, at 7 p.m. the game will be broadcasted on ESPNU. This is a subscription channel so I will have to check the local networks to see if they pick up the coverage.
As always, GO CARDS!! #L1C4