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    On a Tough Shooting Night, Louisville Basketball Falls To Virginia 52-47
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    When the University of Louisville basketball Cardinals joined the Atlantic Coast Conference, everyone knew the competitive match ups would be intense this season. After all, Duke and North Carolina are always good and there’s a good number of former Big East teams. The best of the bunch this year are the Virginia Cavaliers. Louisville met them on their home floor Saturday night. After clawing and fighting, the Cards finally fell 52-47.

    It was the first of two meetings between the teams. The third ranked Cavs (21-1, 9-1 ACC) turned up their defensive pressure on the ninth ranked Cards 19-4, 7-3) who, in turn, turned up their defensive pressure, too.

    Early on, Louisville attacked the teeth of the Virginia defense and saw some success with made shots and drawn fouls. On the other side of the ball, they switched the defensive schemes at will to keep the Cavaliers from getting into an offensive rhythm.

    Due to the rotating defenses, Cardinal coach Rick Pitino substituted earlier than he did in the last game against Miami. That meant we saw Anton Gill, Quentin Snider, Anas Mahmoud, Shaqquan Aaron and Jaylen Johnson midway through the first half rather than a dependence on the starting five. The challenge would be to see if they could contribute in a way they didn’t on Tuesday.

    When the subs got their playing time, Louisville didn’t score the final 10:30 of the half. Meanwhile the Cavs got the rhythm the Cards tried to prevent. While Virginia pulled away a bit, it didn’t get too far out of control. Not after seeing how the Ville handled North Carolina. Virginia eventually went up by 11.

    The Cavaliers were held to 32% shooting in the half, but the Cardinals were held to 19%. Coach Pitino was noticeable upset on the bench, as you might expect. The lid was firmly on the rim and the weird halftime score ended up being 24-13.

    Coming out for the second half you had to think that Louisville would hit more than the 4 shots that went in in the first. That’s not a typo. They only hit 4 shots in the first period. A tough shot in the lane from senior point guard Chris Jones finally got them back on the board after an impossibly long time being scoreless.

    Montrezl Harrell had a quiet time in the first half. The All American who was unstoppable a week ago was stopped this time out. His teammates couldn’t find him on the low block and when he came out high, he was a threat to dribble. Dribbling, though, is the weakest part of his game. With the defense Virginia plays, he should never put it on the floor.

    However he came alive toward the end of the game and put together an emphatic dunk, then a jumper from 15 feet. Both shots are going to make him a lot of money in the NBA. it would have been better for Louisville if he could have put some of that together in the first half, too. he finished with 12 points and 6 rebounds.

    Wayne Blackshear, a fan favorite, continued his hard-to-figure-out act. He didn’t score until halfway through the second half. He followed with a couple of three pointers. Then went back to just taking up space in the line up. It seems like every game he shows you a glimpse and then fades from view. During his flurry he scored 8 points and pulled in 7 rebounds.

    The Louisville bench continues to disappoint. No scorers on the second line. At all. Earlier in the season, you saw flashes from Gill and Johnson. Recently there has been no production from then. The five spot rotation of Mangok Mathiang and Chinanu Onuaku produced nothing either. Something has got to give.

    Terry Rozier led the way, as per usual, with 16 points to go with 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Chris Jones provided some sparks, too, with 11 points and 5 rebounds.

    Next for the Cards is a home battle against Pittsburgh in the KFC Yum! Center with another late tipoff at 8pm.

    Photo 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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