Louisville could have had a let down game against a good Providence team coming off their massacre of DePaul and at halftime it looked like they might.
First year coach Keano Davis has done a great job this season, taking over a Friars team that was 15-15 last season, having already won 16 games this season (16-10 overall). The Friars weren't going to come into Freedom Hall intimidated. Providence would come out firing - hitting their first four shots of the game and with every first half blow the Cards threw at them, Providence would answer, finishing the half shooting 18/24 from the field and holding a 46-45 lead.
The Cards couldn't have played better offensively in the first half, doing a great job of attacking the smaller Friar line-up in the post and utilizing both Williams and Clark in the high post. Louisville's inside success early allowed good looks from the outside and Louisville for the second straight game took advantage of the open threes.
Unfortunately, as good as the offense looked, the defense struggled slightly. Yes...46 points and 75% from the field and I say the Cards only slightly played bad defense. Here is how...Louisville's four guard rotation did a great job of speeding up Providence's guards, forcing 9 turnovers before intermission but unlike most of the season, Louisville allowed the Friars guards to penetrate with ease and that of course opened up Providence with easy shots in the first half and contributing to their hot start.
I don't know what coach Pitino said to his team in the locker room but I can probably guarantee it wasn't even pg-13 rated. Louisville came out in the second half with the same sharpness on offense and continued to hound the Providence guards, forcing them to play at a speed they couldn't control but when Louisville stopped them from getting into the lane, the Cards went on a 18-1 run highlighted by the play of Preston Knowles. He (Knowles) is 8-12 from behind the arc over the last two games and has returned to be that energetic spark that the Cards really need. I have always thought that Preston as never seen a shot he could turn down. I think last season he would get so exited to play that he would shoot right away just to shoot the ball but over the last few games he has become smarter at knowing what is and isn't a good shot. Don't get me wrong though, Knowles still has no fear in taking any shot no matter what.
It seemed that Terrence Williams has regained his shot, going 7-11 and scoring 17 points with 8 assists and 6 rebounds. Williams wasn't the only triple double threat on this night though. Earl Clark contributed 13 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists as well. Clark who biggest problem has been his shot selection only took 2 of his 12 attempts from beyond the arc and only one of those was forced. He (Clark) did a great job attacking the Friars zone by hitting the offensive boards (5 offensive rebounds) and making great decisions in the high post.
I wasn't surprised that Providence hung in the game with Louisville, I in fact thought that the Cards wouldn't pull away until closer to the six minute mark but they weren't that patent making their run at the thirteen minute mark to pull away.
This was an important home stand for Louisville. They now must travel to Cincinnati, who despite getting pimp slapped by Pittsburgh recently have been playing as good as anyone in the Big East over the last month and then to Georgetown, who while have underachieved record wise this season are still talented and are a young team that plays better at home.
Editor's Note - For those of you that saw the headline "Tale of Two Halfs", just know that the L Ye! Is an equal opportunity employer