Well, hell. It wouldn’t be a UofL game if it didn’t come down to the last few minutes, would it?
Despite a strong push from Syracuse, Louisville clung to what was once a 20 point lead to outlast the Orange for a four-point 73-69 victory. The win was a great bounce-back game after the heart-breaking coulda-should-woulda loss against the Irish, and let the Cards – and Kyle Kuric – continue their absolute dominance of the ‘Cuse.
There’s a lot of stuff to talk about in this game – Preston FINALLY finding his shooting touch again, the return of Buckles to the starting line-up, Dieng being cleared to play but never leaving the bench, the celebration of the ’86 team at halftime – but the story here is blatantly obvious: King Kyle.
This isn’t even about Kyle absolutely torching the Orange in a similar fashion to his out-of-nowhere destruction in the unforgettable closer at Freedom Hall; this is also the latest in an incredibly solid string of games against some of the tougher teams in the Big East. Four of Louisville’s last five games have been against ranked opponents (UConn, Georgetown, Notre Dame, and Syracuse), and during that stretch the most baller homecoming king in Louisville history has averaged just a shade under 19 PPG while shooting 61% from the field and 60% from downtown. Add in his sudden ability to defy the laws of physics and make opposing teams’ cheerleaders become smitten, Kuric has gone from being just a simple role player to being the Baddest man in the Big East.
It was good to see Buckles return, and though it’s obvious he is REALLY out of rhythm due to his extended absence, he led the team in rebounds at 7 and was an able and willing passer. If he can find his stroke, this team is going to get even more dangerous.
I was incredibly disappointed that neither Fab Melo nor Gorgui Dieng were able or allowed to play, because man, listening to a play-by-play person say those names several times over the span of a few minutes might be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard in a college basketball game since Bob Knight had the gall to call anything done by anyone “idiotic.”
Go Cards, let’s beat down the Bearcats in Cincy and get ready for Round Two against UConn.
– Andrew Swan, Contributing Writer