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    Louisville Basketball Loses a Fight to the Irish, Falls to Notre Dame 71-59
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    Against the backdrop of continually increasing snow outside, the 14th ranked University of Louisville (23-7, 11-6 ACC) basketball Cardinals invited fans, and 11th ranked Notre Dame (25-5, 13-4) into the warm and dry arena inside the KFC Yum! Center. Unfortunately, the Cards played hot and cold, too, and eventually dropped the game 71-59.

    Louisville holds the edge on victories over the Fighting Irish by nearly 2 to 1, but this tough team from South Bend set about to tilt the scales more in favor of the green and white squad. Remember, it was only a couple of years ago that these teams fought in a five overtime affair. Lately the teams have routinely gone an extra five minutes. Wednesday night, that would not hold true.

    So far the 2014-15 campaign has been one of the best on record for Notre Dame. Odd, then, that national sports media has considered this a so-so season for the Cards even though the records are nearly the same. Could one view that as a mark of excellence since they expect more than they’ve already gotten from Louisville?

    As much as the Cardinals tried to keep up with the Irish, they visitors built a lead through some careless ball handling by the home team. Quentin Snider in particular seemed bothered by pressure being applied to him. He would regain his composure but he turned the ball over 3 times in the first half against only 2 assists.

    During the first 20 minutes, Wayne Blackshear kept his three point eye trained on the basket and Montrezl Harrell continues to be a man among boys on the inside. His paint play kept Louisville in the game as much as they were.

    Notre Dame’s lead built to 9 by the end of the stanza and grew to 11 on a Jerian Grant jumper with 00:00 on the clock. Grant would finish the half with 10 points to go along with Demetrius Jackson’s 10. Going into the break, the Cards found themselves in a 42-31 hole.

    I didn’t take long to get out of that deficit thanks to an 11-0 run to begin the second half. The nearly full arena came alive as their beloved Cardinals decided to make a game of it. They continued to play even until the final minutes that saw Notre Dame pull away.

    What Louisville did well was keep Grant from continuing to be a factor. He scored 2 points in the half late, but otherwise was negated by the renewed emphasis on defense. What they didn’t do well is stop Jackson. He would finish the game with 21 points.

    The other faltering steps for the Cards came from the big men. They didn’t seem to know what to do on defense against Notre Dame’s mostly smaller line up. They kept committing fouls near the hoop. But Chinanu Onuaku, Mangok Mathiang and, to a lesser extent, Anas Mahmoud got called for body check type fouls. In fact, Mathiang fouled out of the game without scoring a point or pulling down a rebound. Onuaku had 6 points but only 2 rebounds and he committed 4 personals.

    And if you can call 11 points an off night, that’s what you’d have to call Terry Rozier’s night. The shooter with the deft touch, when he’s on, couldn’t get much going offensively. He was 4 of 15 shooting and 0-4 from behind the arc. Blackshear’s night was roughly the same: 4-10 shooting for 11 points.

    Once again, Harrell was a beast. He put in 23 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. During the game, you could see some frustration, but it didn’t appear to be about the other team. It looked like he wanted his teammates to play better and he simply couldn’t will it to happen.

    Louisville finishes the regular season campaign on Saturday at 6:30 in the KFC Yum! Center against the second ranked Virginia Cavaliers.

    Photos by: Tim Girton/Louisville.com

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    About Tim Girton

    Tim Girton writes about University of Louisville sports here at Louisville.com and his love for Louisville continues on his photoblog, called This Is Louisville.

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