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Louisville Holds Off Tough Memphis Squad At Gotham Classic

Lousiville continued their great start to the season with 81-72 win over Memphis at the Gotham Classic.

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Despite a game-high 26 points from Jeremiah Martin, Louisville defeated Memphis, 81-72, in the Gotham Classic at Madison Square Garden.

While the Cardinals were in position for the win throughout (Louisville led for over 33 minutes), Memphis kept it close cutting the lead to two at various points. In the end, Quentin Snider (19 points) and VJ King (17 points) were too much for the Tigers.

“The thing I was pleased with was, and I kept telling them in timeouts, every time they went on a run, we needed to respond and go on a run of our own, and we seemed to do that,” said Louisville interim head coach David Pagett.

Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s Gotham Classic.

Louisville Are Surprisingly Staying Afloat  

After the dismissal of Rick Pitino amid allegations of playing players, many believed that Louisville’s season was over before it even started. Louisville named David Padgett as the team’s interim head coach and everyone assumed that the season was a lost cause. However, after Saturday’s win, Louisville moved to 8-2 on the season, a start that no one predicted.

While most of the Cardinals’ early season schedule is not one that screams fierce competition, they are at least winning the games they should win. The narrative may change when ACC play begins in the coming weeks but a quick start to the season may help. All it takes is an us against the world mentality for a team to come together and succeed. With the turmoil that has engulfed Louisville basketball, that thinking, along with a few wins, builds confidence. Louisville could prove to be a tough out in the ACC.

Tubby Smith Is Still One Of The Most Underrated Coaches In The Country

Smith, who led Kentucky to a National Championship in 1998, is at his sixth school in his 27-year career. He took over Memphis in 2016 as the Tigers won 19 games in his first season. The 2017-2018 Tigers features 11 new players (five junior college transfers, five freshmen, and one transfer) to a team that returned just two letterwinners. The result: Memphis is 8-3 and came up short against a bigger and more athletic Louisville team.

For Smith, who has a career record of 583-292 with 18 NCAA Tournament appearances, this season could be his most challenging with all the new faces on his team. Martin played 38 minutes against Louisville. While that is great for December, those minutes will affect him down the stretch in conference play. Smith is still figuring out who and what works in the rotation at this point. It will be interesting to see how the Tigers fare in a situation that is rarely seen in college basketball. At this point, Smith is holding together and continues to be a coach that is in play whenever there is a coaching vacancy and he is available.

Are There Too Many Non-Conference Tournaments?

This question has been debated amongst those who cover these games and everyone seems to be split. 

On the one hand, these games give smaller schools the chance to play games in places like Madison Square Garden. It also puts two teams together that may not regularly play each other, which could help come NCAA Tournament time.

The other side of the argument is that without schools such as Duke or Syracuse, you will not get crowds. You are running these games in an empty arena. This does not help the venue hosting the games or those teams playing in them. 

It is a fascinating dilemma that these tournaments are dealing with. Do you continue all of these tournaments and hope that the more prominent teams show up? Do you cut back and only feature the big squads? What happens to the smaller schools that look forward to these tournaments? Will those teams be pushed out in pursuit of bigger crowds?

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Kahlil Thomas

Kahlil is the College Sports Editor for as well as a columnist, hosting the Bump 'N Run column once per week. He also co-hosts a weekly basketball podcast, The Box Out, every Thursday evening with fellow writer Jason Cordner.
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