Take a look at out ten takeaways from Louisville basketball’s unfortunate loss to the Virginia Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
Well, it wasn’t exactly the type of performance that we were all expecting from the Louisville basketball team on Wednesday night. The Cavaliers led from beginning to end, which completely took any type of momentum out of the Yum Center in the Cards’s first ACC game of the 2016-2017 season.
With that being said, let’s take a look at our ten takeaways from the game:
Dec 21, 2016; Louisville, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Malik Monk (5) dribbles against Louisville Cardinals guard David Levitch (23) during the second half at KFC Yum! Center. Louisville defeated Kentucky 73-70. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
10. The “Kentucky-Hangover” Is Real
The Cards came out of the gates against Virginia looking like they haven’t played basketball in a month. It has only been a week since the Kentucky game, but Louisville still came out very flat against a Cavaliers team looking to continue their dominance over the Cardinals.
Virginia had numerous double-digit leads throughout the first half and Louisville had a lot of trouble handling their tough defense and great passing on offense. It also didn’t help that the Cavaliers made their first four shots of the game.
We all knew how important the Kentucky game was for the rivalries’ sake, but this was the Cards’ first ACC basketball game of the 2016-2017 season.
A conference basketball game is much more important than playing a non-conference team, even if that school is Kentucky.
Dec 21, 2016; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino talks with guard Tony Hicks (1) during the first half against the Kentucky Wildcats at KFC Yum! Center. Louisville defeated Kentucky 73-70. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
9. Louisville Couldn’t Handle Virginia’s Defense In The First Half
There’s no getting around the fact that this Louisville basketball team can struggle to score at times. It definitely didn’t help that they were going up against one of the best defensive basketball programs in all of college basketball.
The Cards only had 11 points by the under-8 timeout, which is extremely disappointing for a squad that is ranked sixth in the country. Louisville needed to come out fast against the Cavaliers, yet this came out and did the exact opposite.
Virginia does such a great job of sticking to their man on defense, that Louisville was never comfortable passing the basketball.
Early in the first half, the Cards had multiple plays where they had an open teammate in the lane, but the Cavaliers’ pressure was too much to mentally handle and the underneath guy never got the ball.
Dec 3, 2016; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Virginia Cavaliers guard London Perrantes (32) dribbles the ball as West Virginia Mountaineers guard Teyvon Myers (0) defends in the first half at John Paul Jones Arena. The Mountaineers won 66-57. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
8. Virginia Had More Effort, Discipline, And Focus In The First Half
We have already touched on this a little bit, but Virginia definitely had more fire in the first half than Louisville. The Cards wouldn’t chase down loose basketballs or make the extra effort on the defensive end. It was almost embarrassing to watch their poor effort in the first 20 minutes.
The Cavaliers’ defense got the Cards out of control and that let Louisville turn the basketball over way too many times.
When you turn the ball over 12 times in one half, against a team like Virginia, you aren’t going to give yourself an opportunity to win.
I had hoped the Cards would have come out playing better, but it looked like the Kentucky game was their National Championship.
Dec 21, 2016; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals forward Jaylen Johnson (10) shoots against Kentucky Wildcats forward Wenyen Gabriel (32) during the second half at KFC Yum! Center. Louisville defeated Kentucky 73-70. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
7. Louisville’s Forwards Had A Total Of Seven First Half Points
This was just embarrassing to watch in the first half. If the Cardinals have done anything great all year long, it’s been their ability to play better than the other team in the paint. However, the Cavaliers forced the Cardinals’ forwards to be non-existent.
Here were the Cards’ Forwards’ scoring from the first half:
VJ King: 4 points
Deng Adel: 2 points
Anas Mahmoud: 1 point
Johnson, Mathiang, and Spalding: 0 points
Against a team like Virginia, Louisville just can’t afford to let them dictate what’s going to work. Everyone knew the Cavaliers were going to try and take over in the paint, it’s just frustrating that the Cards just let them.
Feb 8, 2016; Durham, NC, USA; Louisville Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino screams instructions to his players in the first half of their game against the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports
6. Louisville’s Free Throw Shooting Was Terrible
The Cards missed nine free throws on Wednesday night and that was the difference between them making it a game or completely being out of it from the beginning. Louisville cannot continue to shoot this bad at the line because those are the easiest shots they will ever get against the Cavaliers.
In a game where every single shot was contested, the Cards couldn’t even make the simple ones.
I’m sure that the Cardinals will be very disappointed with their performance at the line, but hopefully they can shake it off and move on.
Louisville needs to have a short memory because they still have to face Indiana and Notre Dame over the next few weeks.
Dec 28, 2016; Louisville, KY, USA; Virginia Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett reacts during the first half against the Louisville Cardinals at KFC Yum! Center. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
5. The Cards’ Late-Game Run Was Encouraging
If there is anything to remotely like about what Louisville did against Virginia, it was exactly this. They were on the verge of getting blown out of their own building, yet the Cards ended up finishing the game strong and cutting the lead to nine.
Again, they could have been even closer if they could have hit their free throws.
One of the bigger issues for Louisville is that they don’t have one guy they can rely on to score. The even bigger problem against Virginia, was that no one could even get going a little bit.
Not even Quentin Snider, who played the game of his life against Kentucky just one week before.
Again, hopefully Louisville can build off of what they were able to do over the last ten minutes of the game and come out on fire against Indiana on Saturday.
Dec 28, 2016; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals guard Donovan Mitchell (45) dribbles against Virginia Cavaliers guard Devon Hall (0) during the first half at KFC Yum! Center. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
4. Donovan Mitchell Was Dominated All Game Long
This was easily one of the worst games that Mitchell played all season. He wanted to take some big threes at the end of the game, but one was an airball and the other was clearly off the mark. This was definitely a game that Mitchell will want to forget about awfully quick.
He did end the game with seven points, but he got a few of those in the garbage minutes of the second half. Louisville needed him to play a lot better if they wanted to beat the Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
The good news is that Mitchell rarely has games like this since he has been at Louisville. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him come out and play one of his best games of the season against the Hoosiers this weekend.
Don’t freak out over this too much Cardinals fans, Mitchell is going to be just fine.
Nov 30, 2016; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Virginia Cavaliers guard Kyle Guy (5) celebrates o the bench against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second half at John Paul Jones Arena. The Cavaliers won 63-61. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
3. Kyle Guy Is Going To Be A Top-Level Player At Virginia
I’ll be completely honest with you all, I wish that Louisville had a shooter like Kyle Guy on their roster. As only a freshman, this kid can really shoot the ball well and added another nine point game against Louisville to his 2016-2017 resume.
The bad news for Louisville, is that Guy didn’t even get into a groove from the three and still had more points than anyone on the Cardinals. Not to mention, he doesn’t even start for Tony Bennett.
I expect Kyle Guy to become a major factor for the Cavaliers down the stretch of the season. His three point shooting ability could be a difference-maker on a basketball team looking to make another deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
Dec 21, 2016; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals forward Deng Adel (22) reacts after time expired in the second half against the Kentucky Wildcats at KFC Yum! Center. Louisville defeated Kentucky 73-70. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
2. Louisville’s Three-Point Shooting Was Non-Existent
This part of Louisville’s game on Wednesday night was just pathetic. The Cards finished the game against Virginia going 2-14 from three, which equates to 14.3 percent. It’s hard to beat any team in college basketball only shooting 14.3 percent.
It was so encouraging to see how well the Cards shot the basketball against Kentucky. However, the biggest difference between the two games was that Virginia didn’t give Louisville any open shots. Whereas the Cats’ defense gave Louisville opportunities for open threes all evening.
Hopefully this doesn’t become a trend and the Cards can get back to make their perimeter shots on a somewhat consistent basis.
After this type of game, there really isn’t anywhere to go than up.
Dec 28, 2016; Louisville, KY, USA; Virginia Cavaliers forward Isaiah Wilkins (21) scrambles for a loose ball under the pressure of Louisville Cardinals guard Quentin Snider (4) during the first half at KFC Yum! Center. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
1. Louisville Must Quickly Forget About This Loss And Move On
Louisville just went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows after beating Kentucky and then getting killed by Virginia. With that being said, it absolutely stinks that the Cards now have a losing conference record, but they can’t dwell on this bad loss too long.
There is still a long and brutal road ahead for the Cards that extends much longer than Indiana and Notre Dame.
If Louisville wants to be a legit tournament team, then they must learn how to move on and play better basketball.
Champions aren’t determined in December and Rick Pitino will make sure that his guys are more ready to play on Saturday.