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Louisville drops 8th straight to Virginia, 64-52

It was fun for about an hour.

NCAA Basketball: Clemson at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

New year, new coach, new players, same story.

Louisville scored just 15 second half points and squandered a 10-point halftime lead in a 64-52 loss to No. 3 Virginia Saturday afternoon at the KFC Yum Center. The loss was U of L’s eighth straight to the Cavaliers.

The Cardinals built hope in the first half that maybe the Chris Mack era of this series might be kinder to the guys in red and black. Led by Ryan McMahon’s four triples, U of L buried 10-of-16 three-pointers, their most treys in a single half this season. The run of hot shooting was capped by a banked in 30-footer from Jordan Nwora just before the halftime horn.

The stroke never reappeared after the break. Louisville misfired on all but two of its 17 three-point attempts in the second half, and had even less success when they attempted to challenge Virginia’s frontcourt defenders in the paint. Overall, the Cards were a woeful 7-for-30 from the field in a second half where they were outscored 37-15.

Perhaps the game’s most crucial moment occurred near the midway point of the second half. With momentum firmly on Virginia’s side and Louisville trailing by two, Jordan Nwora appeared to score a critical and-1 basket in the paint, but was whistled for a charge by official Jamie Luckie. When the replay clearly showed that Virginia’s Mamadi Diakite had a foot in the restricted area, Chris Mack lost it and was whistled for a technical foul.

Virginia connected on both technical free-throws and Louisville never challenged again.

Adding insult to injury for U of L is the fact that it lost by 12 to Virginia on an afternoon where the Cavaliers made a season-low two three-pointers. Sharpshooters Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome were a combined 0-for-11 from beyond the arc.

The only Cavalier player to can a triple was De’Andre Hunter, who was 2-for-2 and once again proved to be a worthy Louisville basketball foil. The likely lottery pick was 9-for-11 from the field and scored a career-high 26 points. Also helping make up for the poor shooting of the UVA star guards was the interior duo of Diakite and Jay Huff coming off the bench and combining to score 16 points on 13-of-18 shooting. As a team, Virginia outscored Louisville 38-4 in the paint.

For Virginia, Saturday was a historic afternoon. The Cavaliers became the first team in ACC history to win five road games over ranked conference opponents in one season.

For Louisville, the search for answers continues, and it does so with not much time to spare.