Cards Rope-A-Dope St. John’s 75-68

Posted: January 9, 2010 by Bacon in Louisville Basketball, Posted by Larry Loobers

St. John’s didn’t come in to Freedom Hall intimidated but they did come in as healthy as they have been in over a year. The Red Storm welcomed back the return of starting point guard Malik Boothe and prolific scorer Anthony Mason Jr. and used that to give the Cards all they wanted.

Both teams played a sloppy first half, with St. John’s shooting just 39% from the field while the Cards would put up just 33% themselves. Edgar Sosa who was coming off a season high 26 points went scoreless in the first half and would struggle throughout most of the game. 

Basically the only exciting moment in an otherwise slow and messy first half was when St. John’s Junior Dwight Hardy nailed a 3 at the buzzer to give the Red Storm a 32-28 halftime lead.

Roberts has lost 4 in a row to Cards since winning his 1st matchup

Unfortunately for St. John’s and coach Norm Roberts Louisville was just playing the rope-a-dope, of course made famous by Louisville’s own  Mohammed Ali. With 7:51 to play the Cards would hit the Red Storm with the famous right hook or in their version a 12-1 run. The Cards would then return back to jabbing and be happy with a 75-68 win and 3-0 Big East start.

Only 3 Louisville players would score in double-digits, led by Jerry Smith with 16 points followed by a career high 15 points from Jared Swopshire. Preston Knowles added 12 points but was one of several Cardinals who struggled from long-range.

Louisville as a team were 7-24 (29%) with Smith (0-3) and Knowles (0-4)hurting the most. If there is a bright spot it would be that the Cards were 2-12 from three (16%) in the first half. So they were a much improved 5-12 (41%) from beyond the arch.

Swopshire had a career high 15 points and grabbed 7 rebounds

The battle of the boards was a one-sided affair with Louisville out rebounding St. Johns 43-32, including destroying them with 19 offensive rebounds. Samardo Samuels would contribute to that margin with 4 offensive boards and 11 overall to lead all players.

St. John’s was led by Junior swingman D.J. Kennedy who finished with 20 points and also added 8 rebounds.  Fellow Junior guard Paris Horne would contribute 15 points for the Red Storm but it wasn’t enough. St. John’s has now lost 3 games in a row (all Big East games) and 4 of their last 5. After a nice 9-1 start, the Red Storm now sit at 10-5 and 0-3 in the Big East.

Cards have no time to celebrate as they will now play host to top 10 Villanova on Monday night. Louisville can not allow the Wildcats to shoot 42% from deep (St. Johns percentage) if they want to pull off the upset. The Cards and Wildcats match up starts at 7pm ET and is to be a white-out for the home Cardinal crowd.

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