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Louisville's South Bend struggles continue

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

For the sixth consecutive time, the Louisville basketball team will head home from South Bend, Indiana after being defeated by Notre Dame.

The game followed a path similar to the ones we've seen in the Joyce Center over the last decade. Notre Dame played exquisite offense for a large chunk of the game, U of L managed to put itself in a position to win in the contest's closing minutes, and then the Irish were the team that executed on the game's most crucial possessions.

Notre Dame showed why it entered the evening as the nation's leader in free-throw percentage, connecting on 22-of-25 (88.0 percent) from the charity stripe, many of which came in the game's final segment. Steve Vasturia led the Irish with 24 points, Matt Farrell chipped in with 22 of his own, and double-double machine Bonzie Colson did his thing with 18 points and 14 rebounds.

Donovan Mitchell led Louisville with 20 points, five assists and five steals, but it took him 20 shots to reach that point total. The Cardinals as a team shot just 39.1 percent, and had no starter who connected on better than half their field goal attempts.

If you're looking for a silver lining here, it's that Louisville got its two biggest ACC bugaboos -- road games against Notre Dame and any game against Virginia -- out of the way early. The Cards do have to play both teams again, but history would indicate that they'll take care of the Fighting Irish on senior day ... and that maybe you should make other plans during the game in Charlottesville.

If there are things to be disappointed about outside of the standard "we lost to Notre Dame and it sucks and I'm mad," it's the defensive effort and the complete lack of execution in the final minute and a half.

Sure, the Fighting Irish did what they typically do in these games and tossed in some ridiculous shots, but there were also a healthy amount of uncontested lay-ups in the first half where our guys got blown past and no help ever came. And then the end ... Louisville consistently fouled the best free-throw shooting team in the country and had Ray Spalding throwing an alley-oop to Anas Mahmoud and Deng Adel attempting to drive from 32 feet out to the bucket on the game's most important two possessions. None of those things worked out particularly well.

It was a disappointing evening, sure, but at this point I think you just have to say that we've had some really good teams that have gone up there and lost, and hopefully this is another one.

And hopefully we play these guys again in a conference tournament semifinal.

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