Here is a sampling of stories covering UofL’s thrilling upset win over No.2 Virginia….
*Improbable shot lifts Louisville
Not to suggest the No. 2 Cavaliers shouldn’t learn from Saturday night’s 59-57 setback at No. 16 Louisville. They were a step slow defensively for the opening 10 minutes, unusually loose with the ball throughout and outrebounded for only the seventh time this season.
Fail to correct those flaws moving forward and forget about a second consecutive ACC tournament championship and/or a Final Four run.
But all that said, here’s what it took to beat Virginia in the most hostile environment the Cavaliers have faced: A contested, 17-foot jumper by a sophomore from Australia who had not hoisted a shot all night.
And why on God’s green Earth would Mangok Mathiang even think about shooting? Over the previous nine games he was 1-for-16 from the field.
Yet with the game clock ticking inside five seconds and 7-footer Mike Tobey lunging at him, Mathiang had little choice. Improbably, his jumper from just inside the top of the key swished, countering the stone-cold Malcolm Brogdon 3-pointer that had put the Cavaliers ahead with 13.7 seconds remaining.
*You can watch Virginia HC Tony Bennett’s post-game comments HERE.
*In March, ‘Mangok Happens’
As is tradition on Senior Day, Louisville coach Rick Pitino took the microphone after his team’s final regular-season game had ended to introduce his departing players. First, though, Pitino had a question for the crowd.
“How about Mangok?” he said, and then repeated it. “How about Mangok?”
March often creates unlikely heroes, and the madness began a little early with one of the most stunning games of the season. Mangok Mathiang hit a game-winning, 16-footer with 2.7 seconds left as No. 16 Louisville knocked off No. 2 Virginia 59-57 on Saturday at the KFC Yum! Center.
That’s the same Mathiang who had scored eight total points and made one field goal since Jan. 31. The same Mathiang who had not taken a shot in the first 39 minutes against the Cavaliers. The same guy who Pitino had told early this season that he couldn’t play college basketball unless he learned how to make an open jumper near the foul line.
“I think he was their fifth option,” Virginia guard Malcolm Brogdon said. “He’s who we wanted to take the shot.”
Mathiang smiled and nodded when later told of Brogdon’s comments. Pitino joked Mathiang was the team’s “64th option.”
It was Mathiang’s second field goal since Jan. 31. Scoring less than three points a game and known more for his high energy than offensive prowess, Pitino said Mathiang has spent the past two months practicing that shot after teams have increasingly left him open.
”That shot was good from the moment it left his hand,” Pitino said. ”I’m really happy for him because he put in the work.”
Even Mathiang was surprised.
”I was just shocked that I made it,” Mathiang admitted. ”I was running, then Trez came hugged me and everybody was around me. This is a real big deal.”
A big deal indeed. Louisville (24-7, 12-6) snapped Virginia’s nine-game winning streak and its perfect road record. The win clinched fourth place in the conference for the Cardinals, earning them a spot in the quarterfinals to start the ACC tournament.
”We wanted to get this double-bye,” Pitino said.
Virginia (28-2, 16-2) didn’t seem fazed by the way they played the game’s critical moment.
”I don’t want to say I expected him to not make, but I was OK with the way we defended that possession,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said.
Guard London Perrantes was even more direct in his assessment.
”I’d let him shoot it 10 times out of 10,” said Perrantes, who finished with seven points but four of the Cavaliers’ 13 turnovers.
Harrell had 20 points and 12 rebounds in his last home game for Louisville. Rozier and Quentin Snider each added 11 points for the Cardinals.