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    Cardiac Louisville Cardinals Knock Off Miami 55-53
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    The University of Louisville basketball Cardinals (21-6, 9-5 ACC) came into their match up with Miami (17-20, 7-7) sporting a rank of twelfth, a rank sure to drop considering losses to North Carolina State and Syracuse in their last two games. On Saturday the Hurricanes came to the KFC Yum! Center. It looked as though they would blow the Cardinals away, but Louisville put together an improbably 55-53 win.

    Card Nation should be excused for asking, “What’s wrong with our Cards.” They’ve lost to two teams they should have beaten by double digits. Chris Jones has been suspended. Coach Rick Pitino said Shaqquan Aaron, the jewel in their previous recruiting class, isn’t acting like a Louisville man. Something has to change if the Cardinals want to dance deep into March.

    The last time Louisville and Miami met earlier this month, Louisville cruised. Since that loss, Coach Jim Larranaga’s Miami team has won 3 of 4. Would it be possible that they smell blood in the water? Would their three guard offense have too much quickness against the Cards more traditional attack?

    In the first half, the quickness won out and Miami took an early lead which they didn’t relinquish. The Cards held them to 41% shooting but only connected on 24% of their own shots. Louisville also couldn’t knock down the three ball whereas Miami could. The Canes went up by as many as 13 points.

    Jones didn’t start, Quentin Snider did, but he entered the game to a great deal of applause. “Chris was well rested,” Pitino said. Aaron also played, “He practiced like a Louisville basketball player.” That’s all Louisville fans wanted to hear. 

    Officials also seemed to want to let the contact go to the point that star forward Montrezl Harrell complained visibly to the referee. He was rewarded :45 seconds later with a technical foul for aggressive play on Tonye Jekiri. Aggressive as in hitting Jeriki in the face with the basketball.

    “It was a good call,” Pitino said. Larranaga claimed Jekiri had a concussion as a result. It healed in about :15 seconds so no permanent damage was done and Miami went to the break with a 29-19 lead.

    So that was the day part of the game. Then came the night. Whatever the Cardinal coaching staff told their team at halftime sparked a return to Louisville form. The defense stepped up where they had been shrinking the last few games. And the squad opened the game with a run that briefly gained them the lead.

    From there it was back and forth with Miami getting the best of most exchanges but you could seethe Cards weren’t out of it. Harrell was a beast in the comeback. He just took over, scoring 21 points, pulling in 14 rebounds and blocking 3 shots to go with 3 steals. Jones returned to the point and scored 17 points and getting five rebounds of his own.

    The bench didn’t help much. Technically they had 17, but they were all scored by Jones who is the regular starter. No one else could put in points. Chinanu Onuaku continued to clean the glass, however, pulling in 8 rebounds.

    It was an off shooting night for Terry Rozier. The leading scorer on the team couldn’t get the ball to fall though he too more shots than any other Cardinal. They just didn’t go in. His help rebounding, he grabbed 7, helped the Louisville cause. That, more than anything else, illustrates Pitino’s point. Even if you’re not scoring, you can contribute and you can win.

    The coach also harped on deflections, which is not an official stat but something he’s been keeping track of since he was a young coach. “Just get the fingernail on the ball and it wins the game.”

    Louisville has a short turn around time. They next tip it up at Georgia Tech on Monday at 7. They don’t return to the KFC Yum! Center until March 4 for a 7pm start against Notre Dame.

    Photos by: Tim Girton/Louisville.com

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    About Tim Girton

    Tim Girton writes about University of Louisville sports here at Louisville.com and his love for Louisville continues on his photoblog, called This Is Louisville.

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