By Beau Kilpatrick—
The Louisville Cardinals were a hot team coming into today’s game, but so was Michigan. The Cardinals owned the first half against the Wolverines and held an eight-point lead at the half. But it was Michigan that fought back in the second half to win 73-69.
The Cards were firing on all cylinders in the first half and it looked like coach Pitino’s squad could run away with the lead. Deng Adel and Mangok Mathiang were dominant. Adel brought the fans to their feet when he threw down an earth-shattering dunk with a little more than five minutes remaining in the half.
Deng Adel was a key player in Louisville’s first half lead. He finished the game with 16 points, one block and a steal. Donovan Mitchell led all Louisville scorers with 19 points. He also led the Cards with five assists and added a block and a steal to his stats.
Mangok Mathiang played his last game in a Cardinal uniform. Mathiang was causing matchup problems for Michigan early on. It seemed that he was scoring at will and drawing fouls every time he went to the rim. He finished his career with 13 points and making 6-7 from the field.
The full box score Stats.
Tony Hicks finished out his career today as well. He only scored seven points but added two critical steals for the Cards. Hicks saw an increase in his usual amount of playing time due to the surprising lack of production from Quentin Snider. Snider did not score a single point in the second-round matchup. Snider is usually a clutch player that produces in the most challenging situations. However, Snider was ice cold, shooting 0-9 from the field today.
Michigan fought their way back into the game today by being patient and physical. Louisville challenged their three-point ability and forced the Wolverines to beat them in the paint. It was a good game plan by coach Pitino and fared well for most of the game. Persistence by Michigan and inconsistency by Louisville was the determining factor in today’s game.
Compare the Team Stats.
Rick Pitino said, “All year long we’ve played with A-plus effort. Where we have struggled is the mental facets of the game.” Pitino continued, “We beat ourselves mentally. I can say every loss this year; it’s been the mental parts, the fundamentals of the game, not the physical. Because they’re a great group of guys that give great effort.”
Louisville’s season is over and Mangok Mathiang, Tony Hicks, and David Levitch have finished their college careers at the University of Louisville. Much of the inexperience that coach Pitino has alluded to throughout the year will now be remedied. Mathiang is the only starter that will not be returning next season, but Donovan Mitchell, Ray Spalding, Jaylen Johnson, V.J. King, Anas Mahmoud, and others now have post-season tournament experience that will help mature their basketball potential.
“We’re going to have a whole team back and we have the potential to be a great team. But we have to get out of the mindset of scoring and if they don’t score, they have to play defense. Once we get out of that I think we have a great chance to come back and be an outstanding team.” Pitino said.
Although Louisville’s basketball season is over, there is plenty to cheer for as a Cardinals fan. The U of L baseball team is No. 1 in the country and they deserve the attention of every fan. Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson will be leading the football team into the annual spring game that will have to suffice until the fall. Louisville remains the greatest school in college sports and there is a lot to cheer for.
As always, GO CARDS!!! #L1C4