By Beau Kilpatrick—
No. 8 Louisville came out firing on all cylinders against Wake Forest. The Cardinals quickly jumped out to a 14-point lead. However, the Demon Deacons were not going to be disrespected on their home court. Wake Forest came back in astounding fashion to take town the high ranked Cards 88-81.
The first ten minutes of the game were very impressive for the Cards. They were making their shots, playing a fast-paced defense, and had intensity on their side. But then Wake Forest came back from a 14-point deficit to cut the margin to a single point by halftime.
The wind was taken out of the red and black sails of Louisville. Nearly all of the starters—Donovan Mitchell, Quentin Snider, Anas Mahmoud, and Ray Spalding—were credited with the highly efficient game plan on both sides of the ball in the beginning of the game. However, they were all sent to the bench due to early foul trouble.
Fouling was a big issue for the Cardinals in this upsetting loss. Many of the fouls were harmless touch fouls that were not being called on both teams, just the one in red. This became so obvious that coach Rick Pitino got in on the action himself. Pitino was called for a technical foul five minutes into the second half after a questionable call against Ray Spalding.
During the postgame interview Pitino said, “We lost tonight because they were the better basketball team. You can make up all the excuses in the world. I could start with officiating. I could give five to seven things I didn’t like tonight.” Pitino continued, “But none of it’s valid because they were the better basketball team.”
The postgame interview with coach Rick Pitino.
Deng Adel had a phenomenal game against Wake. In fact, he is the reason that Louisville held on for as long as they did. Adel led the Cards with 22 points and a steal. With his starting teammates on the bench, Adel took the burden on his shoulders and did as much as he could.
Quentin Snider put up 15 of his own points. However, he spent half of the game in foul trouble. He was not on the floor during Wake’s comeback. When he returned to the game, Snider gave Louisville a spark of much needed offensive intensity. But another foul ensued, which extinguished the fanning flame.
The Cardinal frontcourt had a decent game, but they collectively earned 13 fouls. Ray Spalding received the start and put up nine points, eight rebounds, and two blocks. This was less than his career double-double game against UNC, but still quite impressive. Anas Mahmoud also started this game but came up flat. Mahmoud did not score any points and only contributed a single block.
Mangok Mathiang and Jaylen Johnson came off the bench for Pitino’s squad. Johnson fouled out of the game with 13 points and zeros in every other statistical column. Mathiang contributed a double-double, 12 points and 10 rebounds. He also added two steals and a block to the contest.
Check out the box score for more stats.
The thing that many people noticed was the lack of Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell was tagged with a pair of early fouls, which brought him to the bench early. Mitchell scored seven points and they all came within the first four minutes of the game. He also stole the ball three times and added three assists. But it was fouls that kept him out of this game. He eventually fouled out near the end of the contest when he was brought in to help spark the offense.
This loss has pretty much boosted Wake Forest into the NCAA postseason tournament. They knew how important winning this game was and their fans stormed the court after taking down the Cardinals. Although U of L lost, to have the opposing team’s fans rush the court is ultimately a sign of respect as they view you as an NCAA powerhouse.
Full ACC standings here.
Louisville has lost two of their last three games. They lost to UNC a week ago, beat Syracuse over the weekend, and now they’ve lost their first game of the season to an unranked team on the road. The Cards have dominated all year; I’m sure this is not how they envisioned winding down the final games of the regular season.
The final game of the season for Louisville will be a rematch against the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. The Irish won the first meeting in South Bend on January 5, by the astounding performance of Steve Vasturia. That score ended 77-70 in favor of the Irish.
The Cardinals’ season stats are quite impressive.
The No. 8 Cardinals will host No. 19 Notre Dame this Saturday at the KFC Yum! Center for a Red Out game. The University of Louisville will recognize its seniors—Mangok Mathiang, David Levitch, and Tony Hicks—who will play their final home game at the Yum! Center in Cardinal Red.
The game will be aired on CBS this Saturday, March 4, at 2 p.m.
After this final regular season game, coach Pitino will prepare his team for the ACC tournament. The ACC tournament plays March 8-11 and NCAA tournament “Selection Sunday” will follow the tournaments immediately on March 12. March Madness will begin on March 14.
As always, GO CARDS!!! #L1C4!!!