By Beau Kilpatrick—
The No. 6 Louisville Cardinals are now 4-1 in the series against the University of Virginia after their upsetting loss to the No. 12 Cavaliers. This matchup showcased a battle of elite defenses and UVA was the better offensive team, defeating the Cardinals 61-53.
Virginia jumped out to an early lead and the Cards could never catch up. Dick Vitale said during the game, “Being down 15 to Virginia is like being down 30 to any other team.” This is because of the methodical coaching style of Tony Bennett.
Virginia is known for their precise defense, slow tempo, and surgically accurate play on both sides of the ball. This type of game plan generally makes for a slow game with a low score, but it produces wins for the Cavaliers.
Both teams have phenomenal defenses and everybody knew it would be a low scoring game with little offense. In fact, both teams made only two 3-pointers each. The key to this game was who was going to have the better luck penetrating the other’s defense. That team happened to be UVA.
Louisville stole the ball five times and blocked two shots. The defense performed at its predicted expectation. However, there were multiple instances where Louisville’s effort hustling was, well, pathetic. The Cards occasionally showed laziness on transition plays that was apparent to everyone watching, specifically, not chasing down the ball and giving up on defense.
Louisville is the No. 6 ranked defense according to teamrankings.com. https://www.teamrankings.com/ncaa-basketball/stat/defensive-efficiency
The Cardinal offense looked out of sync and struggled throughout the game. They looked flat, taking poor shots, air-balling jumpers, and not scoring in transition. This week’s offense was almost a complete opposite of the team that beat the Kentucky Wildcats a week ago.
Deng Adel, Quentin Snider, and Tony Hicks led the Louisville attack with eight points each. The Cards did not have a single shooter score into double digits. Anas Mahmoud probably had the best game on the Cardinal bench. Mahmoud contributed seven points, two blocks, three rebounds and two assists. Ray Spalding hauled in the most rebounds with seven.
At one point, Louisville was down by 21 points. The Cards made a great run late in the second half that reduced the deficit to nine with two minutes left in the game. It looked like Pitino’s squad had a chance to take the lead but Virginia’s Kyle Guy made a jumper that took the wind out of the sails. The game turned into a free-throw percentage booster for the Cavaliers as the Cardinals fouled to stop the clock.
Louisville has only won once against UVA since joining the ACC. The series stands at 4-1 in favor of Virginia. The daunting tempo, disciplined defense, and surgical offense, often cause nightmares for opposing coaches. Louisville is no different.
U of L is in the middle of a very tough stretch of schedule. They beat No. 6 Kentucky, lost to No. 12 UVA, next they face No. 16 Indiana on New Years Eve. Then they travel to Notre Dame to challenge the No. 25 Fighting Irish. If the Cards can win three of the four then this part of their schedule should be viewed as a success.
The Indian Hoosiers are also coming off of an upset loss against Nebraska. The Cardinals will host the Hoosiers at 12:30 on the 31st. This game will start about halfway through the Citrus Bowl, where Heisman winner Lamar Jackson will take the field against the Tigers of LSU. That game begins at 11 a.m.
New Years Eve should be an exciting day for Cardinal fans. Show your support and GO CARDS! L1C4.