On Tuesday, the Louisville Cardinals kept their undefeated record alive by putting the clamps down on the Ohio State Buckeyes, 64-55. It was the Cardinals’ first win against a ranked team this season.
Here’s a quick reaction to what went on in those 40 minutes.
D’Angelo Russell showed the good and bad
Statistics: 17 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 turnovers and 2 steals on 6-for-20 shooting
D’Angelo Russell couldn’t handle the Cardinals’ pressure in the first half. Terry Rozier and Chris Jones did a great job of sticking to him like glue and speeding him up in the half court. When he was able to get some daylight, he either rushed his shot or had a 7-footer closing out on him. As a result, he scored just five points on 2-for-9 shooting.
In the second half, though, Russell was a different player. He settled down and was the catalyst in the Buckeyes’ comeback. 10 of his 17 points came in the final six minutes of the game.
Even when Russell wasn’t at his best, it’s easy to see the appeal. At 6-foot-4, he’s got great size for a point guard and he’s very smooth. When he’s able to find a seam to the basket, he does a good job of weaving his way around defenders for easy looks. On jump shots, he gets good elevation and he has a quick release. He’s also a smart player with great vision. He finished the game with seven assists, but he could’ve easily worked his way into double figures. He found his teammates several times on the pick-and-roll and helped dissect Louisville’s defense in the second half.
Russell certainly looked like lottery pick-material at times on Tuesday.
The Cardinals’ defense will keep them in games all season long
The Cardinals held the Buckeyes to just 18 points in the opening 20 minutes of the game because they were able to wreak havoc on the defensive end. In the first half alone, they forced nine turnovers and turned those into easy transition opportunities. Although the Buckeyes found their stride in the second half, the Cardinals got key stops down the stretch that helped them pull out the victory.
There’s a good reason why Louisville has the stingiest defense in the nation.
Wayne Blackshear was hot out of the gates
Statistics: 22 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals on 6-for-13 shooting
The best way to beat a zone is to knock down threes, and that’s just what the Buckeyes did in the first half. As a team, they shot 6-for-17 from the perimeter. Three of those came from Wayne Blackshear himself. The senior also had a huge dunk in the opening minutes of the game that added a little pep to the Cardinals’ step.
Blackshear finished the game with 22 points. Whenever the Buckeyes looked like they were going to make a comeback in the second half, he responded with a big play. He was Louisville’s best player on the night.
Montrezl Harrell had a Montrezl Harrell game
Statistics: 13 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 1 block on 5-for-8 shooting
He ran, he rebounded, he dunked, he rebounded, he ran, he tried to rip the rim off the backboard, and he rebounded some more. It was a typical Montrezl Harrell game for the most part. He was a pest on both ends of the court and was on the receiving end of some easy looks in the paint. He posted his second double-double of the season in the process.
Other than that, Harrell was rather quiet. When Louisville’s offense went down the drain in the second half, he wasn’t able to do anything to get them going again. He failed to knock down either of his three-point attempts. Since Louisville’s season opener, he’s now 0-for-8 from the perimeter. While it looks a lot smoother, his jump shot is still very much a work in progress.