“Sometimes they’re going to trap, sometimes they’re going to run and jump”.
Johnson even grew up playing against MI senior guard Derrick Walton Jr. on the AAU circuit, in open gyms and during high school when Walton starred at Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy and Johnson was a standout at Ypsilanti Community High.
“It doesn’t really come up, but you know it’s there”, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman said.
What’s clear is that the two coaches, who have faced each other four times (Pitino is 3-1, including a national title game win in 2013), have great respect for one another.
Louisville flipped the game with an 8-2 run late in the first half to take its first lead. And with one-day prep, it’s very hard.
The best way to defend Michigan’s threes, center Anas Mahmoud said, might be preventing the Wolverines from taking them at all. Wagner and Wilson will need to combat Louisville’s big men: Deng Adel and Mangok Mathiang.
Jacksonville State proved itself more than a mere automatic qualifier from a one-bid conference in the first NCAA basketball tournament game of the school’s Division I era. Malcolm Drumwright added 12 points and Greg Tucker had 11.
MI head coach John Beilein says the team must be flexible if the three-point shot is not there.
Now Jackson will have his chance to play against the team he grew up cheering for when the top-seeded Jayhawks (29-4) face the ninth-seeded Spartans (20-14) on Sunday.
Louisville this season is forcing opponents to turn it over almost 14 times a game, only Florida State has a higher mark in the ACC this season.
None of that matters, though, without a win over Louisville. That is to be expected though with a 2-15 matchup. This years quest continued with 78-63 win versus Jacksonville State in their NCCA opener. And when they were challenged, the Cardinals kept finding answers that got the mostly red-and-black clad crowd on its feet. The Wolverines probably won’t catch the Cardinals sleeping due to their stellar play over the last few weeks.
MISTAKE-FREE BASKETBALL: One of if not the biggest reason for MI surviving a thrilling shootout with Oklahoma State was limiting mistakes. Louisville’s adjusted defense on KenPom is also ranked 7, but they are susceptible to giving up points. Michigan’s John Beilein thrives because of his adaptability and willingness to prepare differently for every team. “He’s long, has got a motor and does a great job for them”. He says that his team has to go out there and create their shots.
But it wasn’t almost enough to pull the upset. The Gamecocks’ only senior, Greg Tucker, contributed 11 points.
“Their pressure really bothered us, but once we were settled in, we were fine”, Beilein said.
“They have as tough a point guard as there is in the college game, from a mental standpoint, ” Pitino said of Walton. “I’ve never seen – I watched the second half. It’s incredible the way they shoot the basketball”.
Louisville (25-8) is looking to advance to the Sweet 16 for the fifth time in the past six years.
“We have played them in the Big East quarterfinals and finals”. Both teams made 13 field goals, but Louisville took 36 shots to JSU’s 22. Be a leader and others will follow.