Louisville starting lineup changed against Syracuse


After two consecutive losses, coach Chris Mack admitted to contemplating a change in the starting lineup for Louisville men’s basketball. The Cardinals debuted a new starting lineup that delivered instant results in a 90-66 victory over Syracuse Feb. 19 at the KFC Yum! Center.

David Johnson, who finished with seven assists, made his first career start. Ryan McMahon, who hasn’t started since Dec. 28, made four three-pointers in the first half to finish with 13 points. Malik Williams made his first start of the year, registering his fifth career double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds.

Jordan Nwora didn’t start in Louisville’s loss to Clemson last Saturday, but returned to the starting lineup, scoring a team-high 17 points. Dwayne Sutton remains as the only player to have started every game this season. The fifth-year senior had 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

Mack brought McMahon back into the lineup because of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone. He wanted a perimeter scoring threat, which McMahon delivered upon. The fifth-year senior went 4 of 7 on three-point attempts in the first half.

With the removal of Lamarr “Fresh” Kimble from the starting lineup, Mack wanted a vocal player with defensive ability. Williams replaced Steven Enoch as low post player.

“Malik is our biggest energy giver, he is our best defensive player,” Mack said. “He is a talker, and so what I lose with Fresh [Kimble]…is you lose a voice, a guy that is a terrific defender and that’s what Malik is in a different position.”

Johnson, a freshman, made his first career start after consistently coming off the bench following the first media timeout in recent weeks.

“Dave is our best playmaker,” Mack said. “That is a change that we have contemplated for a while.”

Mack doesn’t think Louisville’s starting lineup against Syracuse will stay. He anticipates Johnson and Williams to start, but says the lineup will be determined based on matchups.