LOUISVILLE, Ky. – When a media poured into a Louisville locker room Wednesday night, sports information executive Kenny Klein firmly grabbed a intent of their courtesy and ushered him into a core of a room to mount on a Cardinal bird carpet.
A teammate reached over a minicams and microphones to palm Quentin Snider a Santa hat, that he drolly wore via his star-of-the-game talk session.
Ho, ho, hometown hero.
After helping broach a stirring, 73-70 Christmas present to a fan bottom ill and sleepy of losing to Kentucky, Snider was reveling in a best night of his basketball life.
“This is No. 1, definitely,” a girl indicate ensure said. “This is a best one ever.”
Snider is a Louisville internal and a Cardinal fan from a crib. It’s probably hammered into his DNA.
So we have an thought how many his 22-point, six-rebound, five-assist masterpiece performance in a streak-busting delight over a arch-rival Wildcats meant. But that’s usually a beginning.
Add another covering of context: Snider really scarcely was never a Cardinal, and would’ve never had a possibility to play in a all-encompassing adversary he grew adult examination each December. Possessing medium athleticism and a compress wingspan, a 6-foot-2 Snider was indifferently recruited out of Ballard High School – a normal Louisville tributary module – by Rick Pitino. With Louisville’s seductiveness elsewhere, Snider verbally committed to Illinois. But when five-star awaiting JaQuan Lyle decommitted from Louisville for Ohio State, and a Cardinals re-entered a picture, Snider done his possess decommitment and sealed with his hometown school.
But there’s one some-more covering of context here: In dual prior games opposite Kentucky, both of them losses, Snider hadn’t even scored a point. He played only a singular notation opposite a Wildcats in 2014; afterwards he had a dismal, 28-minute bagel final year in Rupp Arena. That diversion was so painful, Snider went home following and didn’t leave a residence for a subsequent dual days.
“Last year’s performance, it kept in my mind all year,” Snider said. “This was flattering many a punish game. we had it circled.”
Snider got support from an doubtful source after his shutout diversion final year. Opposing indicate ensure Tyler Ulis, a longtime crony from a AAU circuit, texted him and told him to keep his conduct adult and play some-more aggressively.
In a hot cauldron of tragedy and emotion, Quentin Snider was copiousness assertive Wednesday night. His 19 field-goal attempts were a career high. His 22 points were a career high (and a many by a Louisville internal opposite Kentucky given DeJuan Wheat scored 23 in 1995). His 6 rebounds tied a career high. He regularly done a right decisions with a ball, directing a Louisville offense that exploited a Kentucky invulnerability that has several shortcomings to work on going forward.
“He only kept aggressive a rim,” Pitino said. “ ‘Q’ played a big-time game.”
He also did it opposite a big-time backcourt that has turn one of a biggest attractions of this immature college basketball season. Kentucky freshmen Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox have taken a competition by storm, averaging a total 38 points, 7.7 rebounds and 9.6 assists.
After Monk illuminated adult North Carolina for 47 points Saturday in Las Vegas and Fox went for 24 and 10 assists, many pregame research here was scarcely unanimous: backcourt advantage – large advantage – to Kentucky.
Even a Louisville staff was secretly endangered about a ensure matchup. How was Snider going to reason adult opposite a 2017 lottery picks he’d be facing?
Just fine, it incited out.
With Pitino blending defenses and creation certain his players stalked Monk around a 3-point line, Louisville undone him into a 1-for-9 opening from outward a arc only 4 days after he forsaken 8 3s on a Tar Heels. And Snider, who had all of one take on a season, doubled that on a night with two.
That brought a grin to Pitino’s face. The Cardinals entered this diversion 10-1 and ranked 10th in a Associated Press poll, though a Hall of Fame manager knew he indispensable some-more from his indicate ensure to snap Louisville’s four-game losing strain to a Wildcats (eight of 9 given John Calipari swaggered into Lexington).
Pitino got some-more from Snider in a biggest diversion of a year to date.
The pièce de résistance came with 104 seconds remaining and Louisville holding a tenuous, 67-63 lead. Snider came off a high shade and found Kentucky’s 6-foot-10, 260-pound Adonis of a freshman, Bam Adebayo, switched onto him. Snider put a shake-and-bake on Adebayo and left him literally descending to a belligerent during his feet as he blew past for a pivotal layup.
“Q is a really good descent player,” Pitino said. “You might remove something on invulnerability that we get behind on offense.”
Kentucky loses a bit on invulnerability itself with a girl and oversight to fact during that finish of a floor. The Wildcats have been utterly successful only using and gunning, personification quick and loose, a character North Carolina was utterly peaceful to accommodate final Saturday.
After a six-minute lane accommodate to start this game, Louisville got behind in transition and incited a diversion into a half-court battle. The best invulnerability in a republic according to Ken Pomeroy was going to make a Wildcats work, and execute, and think. That didn’t go so good for Big Blue.
“We didn’t have discipline,” Calipari pronounced about half a dozen times postgame.
Cal also forked out a date of a diversion several times: Dec. 21. It’s early, and that’s critical to keep in mind for a group that starts 4 freshmen and a sophomore.
“We’ve got a lot of time,” Calipari said.
In no competition is a unchanging deteriorate some-more of a glossed-over walkover than college basketball. Dec games hardly pierce a needle. Mar is what counts.
But this Dec diversion was hugely critical in a city of Louisville. The Cardinals would adore to make another low NCAA contest run after sitting out final year due to a self-imposed ban, though violence Kentucky after years of unpleasant waste will arrange alongside – and presumably forward of – whatever this group does in a postseason.
Pitino is streamer to South Florida with his family for Christmas on Thursday. He joked that if his group had mislaid this one, “I would have left out fishing and called [Louisville associate jaunty director] Kenny [Klein] and said, ‘You take over.’ “
It didn’t come to that, since Quentin Snider took over. And in a routine warranted himself some memorable internal lore.
“He’s going to live with this,” pronounced teammate Donovan Mitchell, “for a rest of his life.”
Popular college basketball video on Yahoo Sports: