It’s Monday so that can only mean one thing…Bacon’s review of the happenings in sports over the weekend. A busy weekend it was as well. Cards luck on the road ran out, the Cats luck on the road finally changed, the ladies tournaments continued, and some great action in the NBA…..
As a Louisville fan I could easily point fingers at the refs for a few bad calls in the final minute and of course a foul call from 96 feet away under 2 seconds that 99% of officials would let go because of the circumstances. I could blame the refs and to be honest I have in the past and have a very good argument to do so in this case. I am not blaming the refs for this loss though. The blame belongs to the Cards and the Cards only here. The Cards allowed a less than poor shooting team in West Virginia to have their way on the offensive boards. Giving up 24 total and 11 alone to Kevin Jones. West Virginia finished the game with 48 total rebounds. How bad did the Cards get killed on the boards? Louisville had 20 rebounds for the game…4 less than the Mountaineers did on just the offensive glass. Another reason is clock management. It almost came back and haunted the Cards when Kyle Kuric decided to slam the ball in at the end of the Pittsburgh game, leaving 0.6 seconds on the clock. Enough time for a Louisville cheerleader to throw the ball in the air resulting in a technical foul and giving the Panthers one last chance at hitting a three to tie the game. Again on Saturday the Cards Chris Smith with less then a minute and a five point lead decided to attack the rim quickly. Now Chris did get fouled and he did hit both his free throws but his action stopped the clock, saving West Virginia a possible 30 seconds. As I said Smith did hit both his free throws but that leads me to the other reason to blame instead of the refs….free throw shooting. The Cards finished the game 22- 32 from the line with Peyton Siva only hitting one of two in the final 30 seconds to allow Casey Mitchell to tie the game with a three. Siva hits them both I can all but guarantee you that out-of-bounds call and on called for foul whistle are not even thought of because the Cards would have left Morgantown with a win. So again to reiterate to Cardinal nation. The refs did you dirty but common troubles of rebounding and free throw shooting are to blame for this Cards loss.
While Louisville saw its good luck run out in close games, Kentucky finally saw its bad luck on the road turn around. The Cats went into Knoxville on Sunday losing 6 out of their last 7 road games in the SEC. Not a good stat when four of those six teams were nowhere near as talented as UK. THe salt in the wound on this road nightmare has also been the lack of clutch play in the final minutes. Kentucky lost five of those six games by four points or less with the sixth being a seven point loss to Georgia. That finally changed at hopefully the right time this weekend. Tennessee started out hot, jumping up on the Cats and looking like this was going to be just another road disaster. A run cutting the Vols lead to seven at the half wa huge though and despite an off day shooting from Freshman Terrence Jones, the Cats were able to FINALLY get their second road win in SEC play. Jones struggled from the field again, as he has multiple time on the road. Teams focus on the talented forwards and other than the Louisville game this year he (Jones) has still not completely understood the concept of passing out of double teams. Give Terrence credit though, despite a sluggish field goal day, he was clutch from the free throw line in the final minute, going 4-4 from the stripe. Also clutch in the final minutes was Darius Miller. He hit a huge three pointer to all but seal the win and added 15 points, his sixth straight game in double figures. If Miller can stay consistent this Kentucky team is very….very dangouris. Of course it wasn’t Jones clutch free throw shooting, Millers clutch three pointer or even another Brandon Knight overall great game that was the highlight of this Cats win. It was without a doubt the sequence in the game that fans saw Eloy Vargas reject Steven Pearl, run down the court, slip behind his defender and slam home two points. By far his best action on the court all season. Vargas finished with 3 points, 1 rebound, 1 block, 0 fouls , and o turnovers. Without a doubt the best game in conference play of the season for him.
The ladies of Kentucky were not as fortunate against Tennessee on Sunday as the men were. The Lady Cats ran into the #4 Lady Vols in the SEC tournament final but unlike the men were unable to come back from a slow start. Kentucky’s star Victoria Dunlap had 15 points and 9 rebounds, while Bernisha Pinkett also added 15 points but that was not enough as the Lady Vols rolled 90-65. Lady Vols Angie Bjorklund scored 23 points, including seven 3s, and No. 4 Tennessee hit a school- and tournament-record 16 3-pointers in the win over Kentucky.
The Lady Cards much like the men could have had better weekend’s too. Louisville’s woman started the Big East tournament with a nice win over Villanova on Saturday but Sunday brought a powerful Notre Dame team and they were just too much for Louisville. The Lady Cards never got closer than 6 points as they fell for the second time this season to Notre Dame, 63-53. Shoni Schimmel scored 12 to lead the Cardinals, while Devereaux Peters had 19 points and 9 rebounds to lead the Irish.
This weekend also gave us some good action in the NBA. If you don’t know me then you don’t know that extreme amount of love I have for the NBA. Saturday was a slow day in terms of big name match-ups but Card and Ct fans had plenty to smile about. Former Cat John Wall led the Wizards to a rare win with a huge 18 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assist effort beating the even worse off Timberwolves. Wall’s former teammate DeMarcus Cousins has had his up and downs with the Kings and has been defended more so by former Card and current teammate Francisco Garcia. Saturday the Kings couldn’t pull out a win in overtime against a more talented Utah Jazz team but Cousins and Garcia both had good games. Francisco Garcia contributed 18 points off the bench in just 23 minutes, while Cousins had 18 points as well but also pulled down 18 rebounds and dished out 7 assists in 44 minutes.
The other big news of the weekend came in the Miami Heat losing their 4th straight and 5th in 6 games. The Heat fell to the Bulls 87-86 and was the second time in this losing streak that Miami and the “big three” have fallen to Chicago twice in that span. James, Bosh, and Wade combined for 69 (haha 69) of the Heats 86 points, while the Bulls got a more balanced attack. Getting four starters in double figures, including 27 points from Derrick Rose. This is the Heats second 4 game or more losing streak of the season. Things will not get any easier for the Heat with the Trailblazers, Lakers, Spurs, Hawks, and Thunder being five of their next six opponents.