Well, that didn’t go well. Wichita State failed its first test of the season, falling to the Louisville Cardinals, 62-52. The Shockers struggled both offensively and defensively in the first half, trailing the Cardinals at half, 33-17. Although the Shockers showed some heart (and better basketball play) in the second half, they weren’t able to climb all the way back. Louisville’s elite defense was too much for the Shockers, and WSU’s turnovers, poor shooting, and defensive lapses certainly didn’t help.
Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell and Quentin Snider led all scorers with 14 each, while Shaq Morris and Markis McDuffie carried Wichita State with 10 apiece. Although many people thought Louisville would be fatigued after playing Old Dominion in overtime late last night, it turned out to be a non-issue. In fact, the close call for the Cardinals probably provided a wake-up call for them, as they seemed extra focused today. This was the second time WSU and Louisville have squared off since 2013, with the Cardinals winning both times.
Give me a minute, and I’ll find something. One more minute. Ok, here we go. The Shockers trailed by 16 at half and looked completely over-matched, but they never quit. They fought valiantly in the second half, winning that one 35-29. Many teams would have thrown in the towel (LSU anyone?) but not these Shockers. Gregg Marshall has always instilled the never-give-up attitude in his players, and it showed today. They came up a little bit short, but the Shockers should be commended for giving it their all.
Plenty. The Shockers looked overmatched from the beginning and had no answer for Louisville’s defense. WSU turned the ball over 12 times, and honestly, I thought it was more than that. Louisville extended many possessions with their offensive rebounds, and the Cardinals won the battle of the glass by a wide margin, 46-33. The Shockers will have to improve their rebounding going forward.
The Shockers had their shots blocked 8 times and weren’t able to block even one shot of the Cardinals. WSU shot the ball poorly from the field, but free throws also killed them. They shot a measly 55.6% from the line and missed several front ends on 1 and 1 attempts. The Shockers also had 12 turnovers, which killed many possessions.
Player of the Game
Conner Frankamp. He played with poise and steadied the ship many times for the Shockers. He finished with 9 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal. Most importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over even once. In a game against a dominant defensive team, that’s pretty dang impressive. There were times when I was hoping Frankamp would be more aggressive with his shot selection, but all-in-all, it was a great performance.
There were several times in the second half when the Shockers cut Louisville’s lead down to 6 or 7. With around 4 minutes to play and the Shockers down by 7, Louisville nailed a wide-open three to bring the lead back to 10. This defensive lapse was one of several that hurt the Shockers’ comeback attempt.
Tweet of the Game
Pitino said he decided after 2 a.m. to teach his team the matchup zone and use it vs. Wichita. Gave it to them in 55 minutes this morning.
— Eric Crawford (@ericcrawford) November 24, 2016
The Cardinals’ head coach, Rick Pitino, deserves all the credit for their win today. They were up late and had tons of excuses should they have lost, but Pitino rallied his team and led them to victory. This is just another reason why Pitino is one of the best coaches in America.
Tomorrow, WSU will face Michigan State in a hugely important contest. The Shockers don’t have many marquee games on their schedule, so a win against the Spartans will help them tremendously come March.
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