Rick Pitino could only do so much in spite of his uninspired team on Saturday. Louisville’s coach did everything but suit himself up in an attempt to knock off West Virginia on their Senior Day. The Cardinals were beat in nearly every statistical aspect yet it took a foul call with .6 seconds left in the game for West Virginia to snatch victory away from the Cards. With less than 10 seconds left, WVU tied the game at 70 when Casey Mitchell nailed a 3-pointer with ice water in the veins type confidence. On the ensuing possession, a wild shot by Preston Knowles was rebounded by Darryl Bryant and before he could even conjure a thought, Knowles inexcusably ran into Bryant, drawing a foul call. Bryant made both free throws and the Mountaineers left the floor with a 72-70 victory and a first round bye in the Big East Tournament next week.
Although, it shouldn’t be surprising that the Cards lost because of a late foul. Fouling seemed to be the only thing Louisville did consistently throughout the game. The Cards committed a total of 25 fouls and spotted WVU 26 points via the free throw line. If that stat wasn’t over whelming enough, look no further than the rebounding situation. The Mountaineers collected 25 offensive rebounds and as a whole, out-rebounded the Cardinals 48-20. The absence of Rakeem Buckles (who is lost for the season with an ACL injury that occurred last Sunday against Pittsburgh) was never more evident than it was on Saturday when the Cardinals showed a serious lack of inside presence on the defensive side of the ball.
Pitino was forced to adopt a revolving door system throughout the duration of the game. His team was being literally abused on the boards and was picking up fouls at a rapid pace. Gorgui Dieng played only 9 minutes yet found a way to commit 4 fouls. Meanwhile, Stephan Van Treese was installed into the game in the second half for rebounding support but picked up 4 fouls in only 14 minutes of play. The Card’s best offensive threat, Peyton Siva committed 3 fouls in the first half and racked up his 4th early in the second half which forced Pitino to bench him until late in the game. Rarely used players like Elisha Justice and George Goode found themselves playing vital minutes for the Cardinals, thus crippling their offense.
Kyle Kuric (who played 37 of 40 minutes) unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate the Cardinals in the second half after Louisville found themselves down by as much as 8 points. Kuric lead the Cards with 21 points, going 5-6 from behind the arc and 7-9 in total field goals. Knowles contributed 15 points while Chirs Smith added 14. Siva went 0-3 from the field and collected his only 2 points from the free throw line. Siva was put on the line with under a minute left and with a chance to make the Louisville lead a two-possession game. Siva’s first shot ultimately rattled in and out before making his second shot. Siva’s initial miss kept WVU’s chances alive.
The Good news for Louisville is that the loss does nothing to affect their seeding in the Big East Tournament. The Cards were cemented as the #3 seed going into Morgantown this weekend and had nothing to win or lose from this game. Louisville has until Thursday to fix the problems that were painfully evident on Saturday.
About the Author
Written by John Buffone
John was born in Rural Valley, Pennsylvania. He attended Clarion University and received a degree in Mass Media Arts and Journalism. He currently hosts "The Sports Zone with John Buffone" on AM 1380 WTYM in Kittanning, PA. John is also a sports columnist for the Kittanning Paper and a contributor to Examiner.com, and CatholicSportsJournal.com.