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The Virginia problem continues: Louisville falls 74-64 in Charlottesville

Shrugging emoji.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

On one hand, Louisville became the first of Virginia’s 22 opponents this season to shoot 50 percent from the field. On the other, the Cardinals still lost to the Cavaliers by 10 points.

It’s incredibly difficult to beat the No. 2 team in the country on its home floor on an average night. On an evening where Tony Bennett’s perpetually efficient Cavaliers are shooting 53.7 percent from the field, 56.3 percent from three, and seeming to connect on every late in the shot clock prayer they toss up ... well, you lose by double figures despite feeling like you played well.

We can get nit-picky if we want. We can talk about losing Kyle Guy too often on defense in the last two minutes of the first half and the first five of the second. We can talk about how March officials might not let a game get as physical as they let tonight’s get (we used to say that about Pitt, and it was certainly a fair point in those years). We can talk about what Louisville could have tried to do differently on defense to get Virginia out of a rhythm.

We can do all of these things, I just think all of these discussions (as well as any other nit-picky points of contention) are dwarfed by the prevailing takeaway from the evening: Virginia is really, really good and they played really, really well. That’s a nearly impossible combination for any team in the country to overcome right now.

I get the “no moral victories” rally cry, and I agree with it for the most part, especially at this point in a season. Still, I’m not sure Louisville has played better against Virginia since joining the ACC, including the game they won. I was beside myself in the moments immediately following the other five losses this year. I can’t be mad after this one. If you are, I won’t try and talk you out of it.

This team is light years ahead of where it was a month ago. If we’re saying the same thing on the first Wednesday of March, then we’re going to be in pretty good shape.

Here’s your final box score: