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Quick Takes: Louisville shows its mettle in early ACC road opener

Dave2015As the first weekend of college hoops arrives, Quick Takes returns.

In full acknowledgement of Kentucky’s win over Michigan State and Duke’s victory over Kansas, we’re going to slip past Manhattan and begin our Quick Takes road trip in Coral Gables.

Still without two of its expected contributors (Malik Williams and David Johnson – both nursing injuries), the Louisville Cardinals burst from a slow start and steamrolled Miami in each team’s ACC opener – yes, that’s a new twist. The Cardinals led by 30-plus points during the second half, with Jordan Nwora pouring in 23 to lead five Cardinals in double figures.  Conference road games are never easy and this was Game 1.  Some impressive early mettle.

More Quick Takes … 

  • Stopping in Syracuse, Virginia did UVA things, grinding out a sluggish, low-scoring victory over the Orange at the Carrier Dome.  Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim wasn’t too thrilled about beginning his season with a conference game.  Then again, Syracuse connected on less than 24 percent of its field goals; so there wasn’t much too be happy about.  Regardless, the Cavaliers are 1-0 in league play and no one will put an asterisk by the result in March.
  • Back to Manhattan … Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey had quite the coming-out party, pouring in a game-high 26 points. Neither team shot it particularly well,  but Michigan State needs someone other other Cassius Winston to contribute in the scoring column. Winston had 21; no other Spartan reached double figures.
  • Kansas coughed up a mind-boggling 28 turnovers and still had a chance to win against Duke.  Most likely a blip on the radar, but still hard to fathom.  Meanwhile, Cassius Stanley looks like a potential monster-in-the-making for the Blue Devils.
  • In under-the-radar fashion, Saint Mary’s outlasted Wisconsin in overtime.  It’s a solid win for the Gaels, who would love to back it up with another non-conference victory (or two) against the likes of Utah State, Dayton and/or Arizona State ahead of WCC play.
  • Let’s acknowledge Pittsburgh next.  The Panthers opened up their own ACC slate by knocking off Florida State at home.  Keep an eye on Jeff Capel’s crew as a potential bubble team.
  • On to Columbus – where Ohio State pulled out a brick-fest against Cincinnati.  There were 78 rebounds collected between the two teams.  Perhaps Buckeye coach Chris Holtmann will loosen the rims a little before the Buckeyes retake the court.
  • Next, we arrive in Chapel Hill – where Cole Anthony lived up to the hype, putting up 34 point in his North Carolina opener – an even better accomplishment considering the Tar Heels’ opponent was Notre Dame, a conference foe and potential NCAA participant.
  • Alabama didn’t handle its early hype quite as well. Jordan Dingle hit the game winner for Penn as the Quakers upset the Crimson Tide 81-80 in Tuscaloosa.  The real question for new coach Nate Oats becomes: How will his Tide respond?  Oh, and if you had already awarded the Ivy League title to Harvard, just saying …
  • It also wasn’t a great opening night for NC State. The Wolfpack dropped their home ACC opener to Georgia Tech, which won’t be participating in this year’s NCAA tournament because of sanctions.
  • The upset express arrived next in Springfield, Missouri – where MVC favorite Missouri State absorbed a one-point loss on the chin at the hands of Little Rock.  The Bears could still be a dangerous March opponent, but these types of miscues aren’t ideal for mid-majors who hope to be in the at-large conversation.
  • We wind up the upset express with St. Bonaventure falling at home to Ohio …
  • Before ending our journey in survivor mode … as Illinois held off Nicholls State in OT, Georgetown needed a late rally to surpass Mount St. Mary’s, and Oklahoma State eked out a narrow win over Oral Roberts.  Sometimes, wins are wins.

All these notes noted, we wrap up with an age-old reminder one game does not a season make. And if I missed anything obvious, well, it’s Quick Takes season opener, too.  Enjoy a busy and fun weekend on the court!

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