Skip to content

Louisville making slow progress back to its closing ways in win over Pitt

Jan 28, 2013, 9:45 PM EDT

Pittsburgh v Louisville Getty Images

Louisville just needed a win, any type of win, to get out of their current funk of a three-game losing streak.

The one they got, a 64-61 victory over Pittsburgh on Monday night at the KFC Yum! Center, was an ugly one. And frankly, it was one that the Panthers really lost, more than the Cardinals won.

Pitt was an abysmal 3-for-12 from the free throw line. That’s really the only stat one needs to see. The points were free and the Panthers didn’t take them. They made up for going 9-for-18 from three-point range, but that was almost in total desperation.

But even in a game that they were given, Louisville was able to do something, or believe it was able to do something, that they haven’t done in the past three games, close.

Free throws, primarily in the second half, had been a problem in the past three contests, with the no. 13-ranked Cardinals hitting 20-of-42 after halftime. Tonight? They were 13-of-17 overall, including 6-for-6 from Russ Smith, Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan in the final minute to lock it up.

Turnovers? Well, turnovers in the final minutes weren’t the Cardinals friend as well over the past 10 days. Peyton Siva’s gaffe that led to the Michael Carter-Williams dunk. The three turnovers in three possessions at Syracuse and, even though it didn’t go into the record books as a turnover, the final possession against Georgetown are all examples of sloppy late-game play that contributed to losses that easily would’ve been wins earlier in the season for Louisville.

Against Pitt, the patience that was absent in recent contests, the virtue that Siva and Smith (who scored 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting in the win, something that had also been missing recently) had been able to use when the game got close or the minutes dwindled, came back. Probably the most significant example of that came with less than a minute to go. Up 60-58, Smith had a shot at a drive off the right that probably would’ve led to a pull-up bank shot. He could’ve taken it, but he backed off when he recognized Lamar Patterson was leading Smith right into Steven Adams for the trap. He passed back out to Siva and it led to two of those free throws from Dieng, sealing it.

It’s the little things that will bring the confidence back to Louisville. Especially in Big East Conference games that will more than likely feature more close contests than blow-outs.

But things are already starting to return to normal. Dieng finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Smith put up his 20. Siva, while his offense needs to improve, finished with 10 assists and four turnovers and as a team the Cardinals finished with 18 assists on 23 field goals.

The Panthers shot 9-for-18 from three, including a deep one from Tray Woodall at the buzzer to make it a three-point decision. Patterson was the only other Panther in double figures with 10 points and Talib Zanna finished with 10 rebounds.

It’s a win. No one remembers how you won at this point in the season, only that you did, come March. But if there’s one thing to remember, by that rationale, it’s that Wayne Blackshear and Kevin Ware, both key cogs on offense and defense, didn’t play a minute.

But in the Big East, Louisville will have to keep finding ways to getting back to their closing ways. It shouldn’t be too hard, given how the first two months of the season went. More than likely it’s going to come down to that as we head towards the Big Dance.

David Harten is the founder of The Backboard Chronicles. Follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

Latest Posts
  1. Four-star shooting guard to announce decision September 5

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:57 PM EDT

    Jorge Lopez/Nike Jorge Lopez/Nike

    The Floridian averaged 26 points per game as a high school junior.

  2. SMU center’s double-double leads Angola to win at FIBA Basketball World Cup

    Aug 30, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    SMU v Memphis Getty Images

    Yanick Moreira missed time last season due to injury, so this month could prove incredibly valuable for both he and the SMU program he’ll rejoin.

  3. Providence’s non-conference slate headlined by Kentucky, four ACC foes

    Aug 30, 2014, 6:43 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Providence is looking to reach consecutive NCAA tournaments for the first time since the 1989 and 1990 seasons.

  4. Junior college guard verbally commits to Western Kentucky

    Aug 30, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    Ray Harper Ray Harper

    Franklin Edmond averaged 18.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game as a freshman.

  5. Two Auburn players taking indefinite leave of absence

    Aug 30, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    After a big recruiting week for Auburn, two players from the current roster are leaving the program.

  6. Cincinnati announces non-conference schedule

    Aug 30, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Mick Cronin AP

    Cincinnati has some tough opponents in the non-conference portion of the 2014-15 schedule.

  7. Utah State forward granted sixth year of eligibility by NCAA

    Aug 30, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    Stew Morrill AP

    Utah State returns a veteran locker-room presence.

  8. Providence adds late 2014 commitment to bolster guard depth

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

    Ed Cooley AP

    Providence added another piece for the 2014-15 season late this week.

  9. Summer mixtape of four-star guard P.J. Dozier (VIDEO)

    Aug 30, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    P.J. Dozier

    P.J. Dozier had a big summer on the grassroots circuit.

  10. SMU, Louisville headline Indiana’s non-conference schedule

    Aug 29, 2014, 10:20 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Indiana will take on the SMU, Louisville, Georgetown, Butler and Pittsburgh before the New Year.

  11. Four-star 2016 guard remains ineligible to play this season

    Aug 29, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline Kelly Kline

    The 6-foot-2 guard has 30 days to appeal the decision.

  12. Kentucky gives walk-on a scholarship for 2014-2015 season

    Aug 29, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    According to a report on Friday, a Kentucky sophomore earned a scholarship.

  13. College dunk champ Marcus Lewis shows off against streetball all-star team (VIDEO)

    Aug 29, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    Marcus Lewis

    Marcus Lewis defeated Cory Jefferson and Adreian Payne in the college slam dunk contest in April

  14. Former Illinois great tweets why Jalen Brunson should stay in state

    Aug 29, 2014, 2:40 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptg1y2mznddmzmeymjrjowyxmgfky2zhndqymjlhnjvh AP

    Dee Brown, a member of Illinois’ national runner-up team in 2005, would love to see Brunson in an Illinois uniform.

  15. College Basketball Talk’s Recruiting Roundup

    Aug 29, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    News and notes from around the world of college basketball.

  16. Former Michigan center discusses hasty departure for the NBA (VIDEO)

    Aug 29, 2014, 11:40 AM EDT

    Mitch McGary AP

    Mitch McGary discusses the circumstances that led to his early departure.

  17. American Athletic Conference releases 2014-15 schedule

    Aug 29, 2014, 10:49 AM EDT

    Kevin Ollie AP

    The teams expected by many to finish in the top five will all face each other twice in 2014-15.

  18. Medical issue forces FGCU freshman guard to redshirt

    Aug 29, 2014, 9:36 AM EDT

    2013 Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic - Florida Gulf Coast v Radford Getty Images

    Zach Johnson was a player the Eagles could have used to add some depth to their backcourt.

  19. Five-star Californian to visit six schools before making a decision

    Aug 28, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    Four Pac-12 schools remain in the running for the services of the former Arizona commit.