A season-high 21 turnovers and some atrocious execution at the end of regulation doomed Louisville in a 74-69 overtime loss at No. 25 Clemson Saturday afternoon.
Three times in the final minute of regulation U of L had the ball with an opportunity to break a 55-55 tie. Those three possessions resulted in two Deng Adel turnovers and a forced shot from Quentin Snider at the horn that barely drew iron. Clemson never trailed in the overtime.
The Cardinals still have not defeated a top 25 team on the road since joining the ACC in 2014-15.
The 29-point loss at Kentucky was demoralizing because it was Kentucky, but this feels like a much bigger deal as far as the rest of the season is concerned. Louisville desperately needs something good to happen, and it had a golden opportunity to beat a top 25 conference foe on the road, and it let that opportunity slip away in painful fashion. It also did so on an afternoon where Clemson -- a team I fully expect to come back down to earth (relatively speaking) in the weeks ahead -- shot just 36.8 percent from the field and missed 17 of its 24 three-point attempts.
Ray Spalding was tremendous and Dwayne Sutton made some enormous plays during a crucial stretch in the second half, but outside of that, this was a game Louisville wins if it gets just a decent performance from its other starters. That’s something I feel like we’ve said too many times this year. Anas wasn’t great, Deng remained on the same planet he’s been on for the past couple of weeks, and Quentin contributed to the gaudy turnover total in ways you don’t expect to see from him.
Look, I’m not sure why a Louisville team that is as poor at going 1-on-1 as any I can remember has decided that it’s best offense in crucial situations involves making zero passes. There are stretches of time where this team moves the ball effectively and enjoys the fruit of that labor. Then, for whatever reason, they just go completely away from everything that had been working.
The really frustrating thing about Louisville’s turnovers is that almost all of them came out of the Cardinals’ halfcourt offense, and the bulk of those were largely unforced. If you’re going to have 20+ turnovers in a slow-paced, grind it out type game, then you might as well try to bring back the old run and gun style from years past because it’s pretty clear that this is never going to be a U of L team that is especially efficient with its halfcourt offense.
This one is going to sting for a while.