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Louisville’s season ends with 79-56 NIT loss to Mississippi State

And now a new era begins.

Well that was less fun.

After two refreshing performances to kick off the NIT, Louisville was thoroughly manhandled by Mississippi State in a 79-56 thumping Tuesday night at the KFC Yum Center. The Cardinals end the 2017-18 season with a record of 22-14.

The hot shooting and efficient offense that carried U of L through the first two rounds was nowhere to be found against the Bulldogs. Louisville turned the ball over 16 times and shot just 25 percent (21 for 60) from the field. Ray Spalding scored 13 points and grabbed 11 boards to lead the Cards. Deng Adel added 11 points, leaving him two shy of 1,000 for his career.

The crowd, as it was against Northern Kentucky and Middle Tennessee, was phenomenal. Props to everyone in attendance.

This is never going to be a season that’s remembered with any high degree of fondness, and that’s certainly understandable. Still, I hope in time we all come to appreciate the grace with which David Padgett and these players handled a really — and there’s no other way to put this — shitty situation.

This could have gone much, much worse, and there were plenty of college basketball people across the country who, back in October, believed it was going to go much, much worse. The guys representing Louisville basketball this season improved the reputation of the program by the way they carried themselves, and they gave us a handful of feel-good performances along the way.

Now we turn our attention to an uncertain future that had been hanging over the program all season long, but now stares us directly in the face. It’s crazy right now to think about all the things that are going to be different the next time we get together to watch a Louisville basketball game.

Let’s go to work.