Kenny Payne addresses decision to not start Ty-Laur Johnson against Florida State

On3 imageby:Sam Gillenwater02/04/24


Even though Louisville was down a few players on Saturday, Kenny Payne didn’t feel the need to start G Ty-Laur Johnson, the Cardinals’ leader in assists and steals on the year. Still, it didn’t end up mattering as he came off the bench, played essentially the whole game, and put on his best collegiate performance to date.

Payne spoke about Johnson and his minutes within the lineup following their 101-92 victory over Florida State this weekend. He said that he didn’t have to explain not starting the freshman since it’s his call as head coach. However, as far as an actual reason, he said it was mostly based on how some of their other players had performed in their last game.

“It’s my decision. Simple as that,” said Payne in his postgame press conference.

“I liked the way we played the last game down the stretch of the game. We were big, strong. We had Tre (White), Mike (James), and Curtis (Williams) in there and they played well. So we tried it again.”

Johnson is averaging 8.7 points, 3.6 assists, and 1.1 steals in 22.2 minutes per game over 21 games for Louisville. That includes five appearances as a starter in the backcourt for the team.

Whether or not the lineup decision motivated Johnson to play well, something clearly got him going against the Seminoles. He came off the pine and posted career-highs across the board of 27 points, 11 assists, and six rebounds to with a pair of steals in 38 minutes. He did so by finishing nine shots at a 60% clip and hitting nine of 10 from the foul line.

Again, Payne isn’t sure if it was his choice that led to the outing from Johnson off the bench. Regardless of if it did or didn’t, though, he was just glad to see him have a true effect on a game that helped them to a victory.

“If we can figure out that young mind? We’d all be geniuses,” laughed Payne.”

“I would hope that it inspired him,” Payne added. “But, whatever it did? 27, 11, and six speaks volumes – not just in numbers but his impact on the game said a lot.”

Johnson, the former four-star, has had his ups and downs over the course of his 21 games as a Cardinal. That included his highest moment yet against the Seminoles this weekend where he came in as a reserve and left as one of the stars from an impressive victory for Louisville.