DURR'S 32 PACES CARDS PAST CATS
Another classic Battle of the Bluegrass yesterday in the KFC YUM! Center as Louisville WBB holds on after squandering an 18-point lead to down Kentucky by five in front of 13786 screaming fans Sunday afternoon.
The fans had plenty to yell about. A Cardinal team that looked invincible in the third quarter after a close first half. A Cats squad that did not buckle under the pressure after falling behind 18 points in the third quarter. Frustration about the Cards 41% free throw shooting in the final quarter. Outrage at maybe the most ridiculous technical foul assessed to Louisville this season. All the elements were in place to create a situation that ultimately ended with a lot of Cardinal fans leaving with feelings of relief that victory was secured and UK fans walking out wondering "what might have been" if the defense had been a little stouter earlier.
This was a contest early on that featured an Asia Durr 7 - Cats 7 start, after the senior All-American provided the Cards offense in the first two minutes. UofL used a 5- 0 run to take a 12-7 lead after Sam Fuehring completed an "and one" a minute later. Louisville held that five-point lead for the quarter with Dana Evans knocking down a jumper with 25 second before the horn.
Evans also started the scoring to open the second quarter. Several fans commented to me that they were puzzled by Arica Carter's lack of minutes in the contest, but with Evans performing the way she was on both ends of the court, Walz made the decision to keep the diminutive point-guard from Gary, Indiana out there. Her free throws gave Louisville a 34-27 edge with 2:30 before the halftime break and Durr's two charity tosses secured a 36-29 halftime edge for the red-clad home team, an interesting choice of uniforms, arguably to support the "red out" promotion..while UK was clad in the white.
Louisville was bucketing the ball and that was good for a 16 for 29 half of shooting for 55%. UK at 38%...hindered by a less than spectacular 4-15 effort in the second session of ten minutes. Cardinal fans gladly, but a bit nervously, eyed the lead while wondering if the Cats had a run still to come.
One thing UK was proficient at was knocking Durr around like a cue ball on a billiards table. Between UK's trio of Maci Morris, Rhyne Howard and Taylor Murray...Durr was getting pummeled like a defenseless quarterback under siege by the Chicago Bears defense. Asia shrugged it off and even smiled about it in the post-game presser. Just a part of the college game were her words.
Nevertheless, the Cards came out on fire in the third. A Jazmine Jones three-ball, followed by a Durr trifecta and then a Fuehring basket plus free throw gave the Cards an early 9-4 run in the first two minutes of the second half to push the lead to 45-33. That would grow to 57-39 (the Cards biggest lead of the game) with three minutes left in the quarter when Jones went coast-to-coast to put in a layup. A minute later, a beautifully timed lob to Jones for an alley loop basket had the YUM! Center patrons in a frenzied delight. Then, inexplicably and incredulously Jones was whistled for a technical foul. She was stunned, the fans were stunned and Jeff Walz argued the call vociferously with head referee Joe Vaszily. He's not nicknamed "silly Joe" without good reason, you know.
Jones had yelled "Let's Go!" after the alley-oop went in.
Either those two words are a couple that really tick off this officiating crew or her vocal delight was mis-heard and mis-understood. It was the start of a 8-2 run for the Cats after the free throws and subsequent possession. The Cards recovered, though, and finished the quarter up by 15. Bionca Dunham on a excellently-timed bucket and free throw and an Evans basket. It appeared the Cards might have the Cats searching for the exit and the quarter ended with Louisville up 67-52.
Give credit to Matthew Mitchell and his squad for succeeding on their strategy to get back in the contest. In what might have seemed like the longest ten minutes in Louisville play this season, the Cats employed the "let's foul them and see if they can earn it from the line" ploy.
It was the right employment and worked well.
The lead started to drop. From 17 to 10 halfway through the fourth. Louisville was sinking either just one of the two free throws they were getting, or none at all. The Cats were scoring on their possessions. Asia Durr was having trouble finding the range on three-pointer attempts and, despite a eye-popping swat of a Rhyne Howard layup by Jones, the Cards had seen the lead evaporate to five with two minutes remaining.
The Cards had 12 free throw attempts in those final two minutes. Five went in. UK sank two free throws with 27 seconds remaining to get within four at 77-73. It was nervous time in the downtown arena.
Fortunately, UK never got closer than four. A Fuehring free throw with 14 seconds set the tally at 79-73 and Carter hit one of two with 5 seconds to set the final numbers 80-75. The Cards win. Despite being out-scored 23-13 in the final quarter. Louisville remains undefeated at 10-0 and Kentucky takes their first defeat of the season to set their record at 9-1.
Asia Durr early made this win possible. Despite 2-10 three point shooting (I still say she had dead legs in the fourth quarter, something she denied in the post-game interviews) Durr's theatrics for three quarters helped UofL construct an advantage.
The first seven points, 17 in the first quarter, 24 by halftime. Despite the tae-kwon-do, defense-by-mugging tactics UK employed.
Walz played nine players in the contest, but three of them combined for just 14 minutes (out of the 200 minutes available). I'll not question the substitution patterns. He's with them every day and knows what he's got.
THE FRED REPORT
|I think we all needed water (or something stronger) after Sunday.|
Rebounds -- UofL held a 32-28 edge in grabs. Fuehring and Dunham with seven each. Jazz added six. The number, while a "win" for Walz's squad, pales when you consider that the Cards managed only six on the offensive boards and gathered only six second-chance points. I'll offer a lower case "r" here, but it could easily be a "no letter".
Effort/Execution -- The Cards definitely hustled all game and had a 12-0 fast-break-for points edge. Seven steals and 13 forced turnovers. 56% shooting is excellent. They had no answers for Rhyne Howard (25 points, 10 rebounds and six assists) but they just may have faced the SEC Freshman of the Year yesterday. Just seven turnovers for Walz's Warriors. I'll award the capital "E" here.
Defense -- Louisville held UK to a 43.3% shooting percentage. They shut down long range threat Maci Morris ( 11 points in 26 minutes ) but senior Taylor Murray and Howard went for 43 points on 14-29 combined shooting, You can defend free throws and the Cats did excel there with a 16-19 success rate. (84.2%) 75 points a bit higher than Louisville normally allows. I'm OK with designating a lower case "d" for the defense.
FRED RECAP: _-r-E-d
Louisville did what they needed to do to win the Battle of The Bluegrass. Five players in double figures (Durr's 32, Fuehring with 12, Jones added 12, Dunham contributing 11 and Evans ending with 10).
A game yesterday that Louisville was never really in danger of losing but a game where UK dominated the final quarter, a quarter that has been their worst quarter so far this year. Kudos to the incredible hustle and spirit of Jazmine Jones, Durr's "oh-it's-time-for-another-big-game-performance" afternoon and solid battling in the paint from Fuehring and Dunham.
|An example of the beating performed on|
Asia yesterday (From Charlie Springer's
UofL Card Game website -- Photo credit to
Cindy Rice Shelton) Taking it on the chin...
This was a game most Cardinal fans thought would be a close win for Louisville and they got just that. Maybe not in the way expected, but, any landing you can walk away from is a good one and Louisville flew through some choppy weather, weathered a slew of questionable "calls" and "no calls" from the stripes and scored the most points.
The team will take it. The fans will accept it. I'm happy about it. A fun afternoon in front of a vocal and enthused sea of red that hung on every shot, play and sequence.
An opponent that refused to roll over. A home squad that gutted out a quite physical win. College basketball, with all it's many twists and turns, was in fine display yesterday by the river.
THEY SAID IT
Post-game comments below:
ASIA DURR AND SAM FUEHRING
KENTUCKY'S MATTHEW MITCHELL, MACI MORRIS and RHYNE HOWARD (audio only)