RALEIGH, N.C. (WDRB) — Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe it was after the Kentucky loss when critics started howling that Ryan McMahon’s playing time needed to be cut at the University of Louisville.
Or maybe it was after McMahon backed up his 1-for-7 performance against the Wildcats by going 1 for 5 against Florida State as the Cardinals lost back-to-back games.
Pick one. Then pick somebody else to pick on in Chris Mack’s deep and versatile Louisville lineup.
North Carolina State coach Kevin Keatts and the Wolfpack Nation left PNC Arena on Saturday afternoon wondering why anybody at Louisville would criticize McMahon.
They also left wondering how to guard McMahon.
After making only three shots from distance in Louisville’s four previous games, McMahon buried N.C. State with a career-best seven 3-pointers in the first half, fueling the Cardinals 77-57 victory. His 23 points were one short of his career high against Michigan State last season.
Lamarr "Fresh" Kimble and Jordan Nwora also had solid scoring performances for Louisville. Credit Nwora with 14 and Kimble with 10.
McMahon made his first five 3-point shots. He made six in the first half as the Cards rallied from a 21-19 deficit to lead 41-26. He gave his critics plenty to think about before they start chirping that McMahon is too small, too slow or too something for the 19-3 Cardinals.
"I just blocked anybody who had anything negative to say about me," McMahon said.
"Any time I see anything negative towards me on Twitter, I don't need negative energy in my life, I block it out.
"I want to focus on the people that want to talk about the positive things about our team or at least constructive criticism. So I see it but it's in one ear and out the other. They're out of my life once I block them."
The Cardinals won their eighth straight game and fifth consecutive road game on a day when they were whistled for 11 turnovers and 11 personal fouls in the first half.
Louisville wobbled a bit to start the second half. Blame it on repeated lapses on defense. NC State made 10 of its first 18 shots, including three from distance, cutting Louisville’s lead to five.
Mack burned a pair of timeouts in the first 11 minutes, leaving himself with only one down the stretch. But the timeouts were well spent. Louisville regained its edge — and McMahon added another 3-pointer, backing out behind the line for a shot that pushed Louisville ahead, 63-52.
The next thing you knew, N.C. State fans were scrambling to beat the postgame traffic — and local media members were changing the discussion to Cole Anthony’s return at North Carolina later Saturday evening in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
At 10-1, Louisville will maintain its hold on first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Cards are parked ahead of Duke and Florida State, both 7-2. Duke will play at Syracuse at 8 p.m. Saturday, while Florida State has a 4 p.m. game at Virginia Tech.
Louisville will return to the KFC Yum! Center for a pair of home games this week — 9 p.m. Wednesday against Wake Forest and 4 p.m. Saturday against Virginia. The Cardinals have won their last three games by 17 or more.
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