Best team won.
Most talented team won.
John Wall confirmed forever and always that he’s a transcendent player. One who can take over a game when it’s needed. Which he did, scoring six in a row after the Cats fell behind by a point in the second half, assuring the W for UK.
U of L showed grit and guts few figured it possessed.
UK can play some stalwart D.
Best Shot of Day. Bill Luster proved yet again why he’s one of the great sports photographers. He captured for posterity DeMarcus Cousins’ flagrant forearm to Jared Swopshire’s head during that first minute scrum. You can view it on page C9 of Sunday’s C-J.
Worst Blown Call of the Decade. Cousins should have been ejected. Don’t take my word for it. Clark Kellogg thinks so. Seth Davis thinks so. Tim Brando thinks so. First of all, the refs should have whistled a jump ball to stop play several seconds before that first minute scrum got out of hand. They did have the presence of mind to view video of the wrestling match. That they didn’t send Cousins packing after watching the replay is incompetence.
The Difference in the Game. Notwithstanding the fact that John Wall took over the affair when the Cats fell behind, Cousins was why UK won. 18 points. 18 boards. 2 blocks. A steal. Total intimidation of Samardo Samuels. His replacement Daniel Orton played eight inconsequential minutes. His line was zeros across.
So you tell me, might the game have played out differently had the refs sent Cousins packing? It is way more than plausible.
Astonishing Numbers of the Day. UK led at half, 27-19. It is hard to conceive that Louisville could have played worse at the offensive end than they did in the first half. The Cats nabbed every loose ball. No Cardinal field goals for the opening ten minutes. No assists, for heaven’s sakes. Yet the Cards scrapped and never stopped playing D. And tallied 5 points in the last 7.7 seconds of the first stanza.
Most Duplicitous Post Game Quote. John Calipari: “Did you see how the game was played? There were things, grabbing, kicking, grabbing, punching, eyeball-dragging, fish-hooks, nose drags. There was everything in the game.”
Check out the second best shot of the day: Mark Stone’s photo on C8 of today’s C-J. Daniel Orton has both Preston Knowles and Samardo Samuels hooked. The next time you hear Coach Cal use the term “double team,” you’ll know what he means.
Looking ahead. Okay, this one’s done. Both teams can move on to conference play. Which figures to be a more daunting task for U of L. The BEast is tough pretty much from top to bottom. Kentucky could easily sweep through the SEC. Calipari’s teams have been known to do that.
UK’s goal is a W on the last Monday of the season. The Cats are good, but have yet to show they will have the maturity in April to overcome Texas or Kansas, who are equally talented but more experienced and mature.
U of L’s focus is more modest. Make it to the Dance, then maybe get to the second weekend. At this point, neither is a given. But — a big but — if the Cards continue to contest with the eye of the tiger, those are not unreasonable accomplishments.
One Last Question. Where does John Wall rank among the many greats who have balled for the Big Blue? One guy’s opinion: #1, even if he’s surely one and done.
– Seedy K