LOUISVILLE, Kentucky – Signs were strangely similar for Louisville: conducted for most of the match; made some mistakes at the end of the course; the game went into overtime.
Friday against Marquette, that ended in a defeat.
Ryan McMahon made two free throws with 7.1 seconds to go before Jordan Nwora scored another with 3.1 seconds to seal the game while Louisville beat Michigan on Tuesday night, number 9, by 82-78 at the Challenge. ACC / Big Ten.
"I've talked about it specifically," Mack said. "I said," How did you feel in the locker room at Barclays on Friday night? We are exactly in the same position. It's up to you to decide – 50-50 balls, no zoning, do not get lost, do not lose your man off the ball, forgetting to block. Do not have any regrets. & # 39; And I told them after the match: "You do not have to be perfect." I'm trying to give them 1,000 details when I'm sure that many of them are swimming in their minds.
"By saving time, we performed these things."
Louisville resisted Michigan State's last minute push in overtime and the Cardinals eliminated the No. 9 Spartans 82-78.
At just six games in his Louisville career, Mack is already in the top 10.
"Louisville's fans wanted a game like this, good news," says Mack, "and I'm glad we can keep up."
When Mack took over as interim head coach David Padgett last spring, expectations for the Cardinals were limited this season. They had lost their top three scorers last season and had no more rookie. They were chosen 11th in the pre-season ACM survey of the media. And especially since Mack had already signed one of the three best recruitments for the following season, so he has enjoyed a grace period for this season.
But after spending the Tennessee top 10 during most of last Wednesday's NIT Tip-Off match, and then taking Marquette into overtime on Friday, there was some optimism in the program. Prior to Tuesday's game, Mack said the Cardinals would be forced to arrive early in the state of Michigan, limit their transition points and make the most of the 50-50 games.
It worked. Louisville quickly took the lead, did not allow Michigan State to score a single point and imposed 17 turnovers, which gave 18 points. The Cardinals also shot 41 free throws.
"And here's the thing," said Mack, "I do not think some players have played very well for us, I do not want to come out thinking or saying," We played a perfect match "because we were far from perfect, we are far from perfect, we have a lot of progress to make, some players still have a lot of progress to make and we are waiting for it. "
Ryan McMahon led the way in Louisville with 24 points, including four to three points, and 12 points out of 13 from the free throw line. McMahon made seven free throws in overtime. Jordan Nwora (14 points), Dwayne Sutton (13 points) and Christen Cunningham (13 points) all finished doubles.
Combine last week's losses with a number of tight defeats last season and Cardinals players have been able to prevent themselves from having flashbacks in the far right.
"Honestly, every time I looked at the clock and that it was a two, three point match with less than four minutes late, I kind of have that feeling of already seen, "said McMahon. "[I had a] bad taste in my mouth from last year and some games this year. [I was] do everything I can so that it does not happen again. "
The coach was impressed by the roughness of his players.
"That's who I'm most happy for, guys in the locker room," Mack said. "We did not let those negative thoughts slip into our minds, I'm sure they were there, but we were tough enough and showed the courage to do the work against a very good team. … we found a way to win us.
Louisville (4-2) still has to play games on the road at Seton Hall and in Indiana, as well as a home game with Kentucky at the end of December, before the start of the match of ACC. But winning a tight match against a top 10 opponent will help the Cardinals' confidence – and their new culture – to move forward.
"We talk about it all the time, we let them know that it's a new start," senior guard Khwan Fore said. "Especially with a new staff, new players coming in, just trying to show them that it's a new start, they can keep confidence in us."
As Mack left the field after Tuesday's victory, he threw an L in front of the delirious crowd and celebrated with one of his daughters.
"It was a great feeling," he said. "I have my family behind the bench – it was for my daughter Hailee – we have dance competitions at home, I thought to show her what I had in public. is probably the last time I would do it. "