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    Without Jones, Louisville Basketball Gutted Out a Win Against Georgia Tech 52-51
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    What a crazy 48 hours its been for the 17th ranked University of Louisville basketball Cardinals (22-6, 10-5 ACC). The combination of rumor and facts regarding former point guard Chris Jones has been dizzying as the rest of the Cards travel to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech (12-16, 3-13). Distraction? Of course. Rising above it, Louisville won 52-51.

    Right before tip off came the news that Jones had threatened his girlfriend. It was the first real information coming from the UofL administration regarding Jones’s suspension and subsequent dismissal. The girlfriend was described as “off and on.” Arguing is one thing, but he texted a concrete, profane threat to her.

    Moving on from him, as he goes to see John Lucas about anger management, would be the toughest thing the Cardinals would have to do as they go into battle with another ACC opponent. In his stead Shaqquan Aaron got the surprise start. He’s a talented freshman, but the conventional wisdom had Quentin Snider on the point. Aaron didn’t play long, though, and Snider got the ball.

    The Yellow Jackets tried to play a very uptempo style in an effort  to take advantage of the lack of continuity with the Cards. Louisville’s defense kept them in the game as every player on the court understood their disadvantage without the fiery Jones leading the charge. It gave them some early success as Snider and Aaron still needed to figure out where to be on defense.

    Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier started off ice cold offensively, each only putting in 4 points, and Wayne Blackshear didn’t help by penetrating, getting fouled and then missing all 4 of his first half free throws. That trio would have to get something going if Louisville was to have a shot against a Georgia Tech team they should squash.

    While neither team has been much of a three point threat all season, the Cards kept giving the Yellow Jackets open looks. Against a tournament team that shoots it pretty well, that will be a cause for concern.

    Surely some of the issues will be fixed when the Jones distraction dies down. The rending of Jones from this squad at the end of the season is still a fresh wound that they Cards needed to heal from. Blessedly the half ended with Louisville only down by 7, 24-17.

    They opened the second half chipping away at the lead only to give it right back on poor defense and turnovers. Even without Jones, that was uncharacteristic. The deflection totals were down again, which had to drive Pitino nuts.

    It was had to watch the Cards get dunked on, too. So many times it’s Harrell jamming it home. Underneath, Chinanu Onuaku, Mangok Mathiang and Anas Mahmoud got slammed on again and again which contributed to the Yellow Jackets advantage in the paint. It led to a lead as large as 13 points.

    And in the space of just a few minutes, Rozier found the range from three point range and so did Blackshear bring the game to a tie. You could see the bench get into the game for the first time since the opening tip to root on their compatriots. 

    Rozier’s 22 points kept Louisville in the game when it looked like it would get away from them. The rest of the team remained as chilly as the Ohio River this time of year. Every few plays someone would sink something, but nothing consistent except Rozier and it wasn’t exactly his best shooting night either.

    Blackshear’s senior leadership, however, shouldn’t be underestimated since he’s the remaining upperclassman on the team. Rather than disappearing late, he found the fortitude to step up. It took a few games for him to find that role again and it was definitely the time Louisville needed it. Louisville would grab the lead with a minute to go. His late free throws iced it. He sank 2 after missing his first four. He would finish the game with 10 points and 8 rebounds.

    Is the ship righted? Saturday will show if their heart is still in it without the heart of the team. It showed up at the end of the game. Could it continue into March?

    Next for is a trip to Tallahassee to take on Florida State. They’ll be back home at the KFC Yum! Center for a March 4 game against ninth ranked Notre Dame. They’ll follow that up 3 days later against number 2 Virginia.

    Photo by: Tim Girton/

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    About Tim Girton

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

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