Louisville, KY – The patented Louisville Cardinals pressure was on full display and helped secure their fourth straight win to remain unbeaten. Louisville native Ray Spalding paced the Cards for the majority of the game, finishing with 19 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks, before leaving with a leg injury midway through the second half. This opened the door for the Red Flash of St. Francis University to stay within reach the entire game helped by a 25-point performance from sophomore guard Keith Braxton. Unfortunately for SFU, winning the rebounding and three point battles were not enough as they piled up 19 turnovers, the difference in the game.
The long and lanky Spalding couldn’t be kept off the glass from the tip and his 13 rebounds were a career high. He showed a good ability to defend inside and alter shots without fouling while using great timing when going for blocks. His activity around the rim was extremely impressive and his motor was still going strong well into the second half his injury. He looked smooth from the free throw line and his six offensive rebounds led to a good number of second chance buckets for Louisville. Now several games into his junior season, a cause for concern is Spalding still seems very thin and his non-existent perimeter game means he may run into size mismatches at the 4/5 positions.
2017 NEC Rookie of the Year and preseason All-NEC selection Braxton continued to pick up right where he left off last season as his 25 points and 11 rebounds led St. Francis. He was relentless in attacking the basket and showed he can finish well with either hand. The 6-5 two guard competed on every play and was a vocal leader on the floor directing his teammates. Braxton proved to be somewhat of a stand still shooting threat from behind the arc and is now shooting 35 percent from three. He used a good pump fake early in the game to set up a couple 15 footers which got him into a nice rhythm that continued till the final buzzer. While only five games into his second college season, Braxton was the obvious go-to guy on the team and has a very bright future.
Another key performance tonight for Louisville was Jordan Nwora. Though only a freshman, he made two big shots late in the game as St. Francis cut the deficit to single digits and played well in crunch time. Finishing with 10 points in 14 minutes of playing time, his jumper and overall confidence were impressive. He has a good basketball IQ, made good decisions and didn’t think twice about pulling the trigger when open. He’ll likely be getting 18-22 minutes a game come January as he is the clear cut best shooter on the team. He has a pure jump shot catching and shooting and using a one dribble pull up to get by a defender. The No. 1 rated prospect out of New York this past year, the 6-8 wing has big potential.
We are looking for those interested in our basketball scout certification program. For information contact us and forward your resume.