This disappointing Cardinal loss in microcosm:
Down 19 late in the 1st, Christen Cunningham drove for a layup with a minute or so to play, and was fouled. He missed the +1, which would have whittled the Tar Heels enormous margin even further.
After empty possessions by each side, CC again got the ball into the paint for layin, again was fouled, and this time converted the charity toss.
Then still down by a significant but more overcomeable 14, all the Cardinals needed was a stop to go into halftime with a little mo.
Instead Nassir Little followed Luke Maye’s miss for a deuce at the buzzer.
It was Carolina’s 7th offensive board of the half, their 7th and 8th second chance points of the half, and their 23d and 24th points in the paint of the half.
Underscoring how underwhelming Louisville’s effort was in the opening stanza, are these comparative stats. U of L had 0 (as in ZERO) offensive rebounds before the break. Thus no second chance points. The Cards total of 12 rebounds was 16 less than the Tar Heels 28. U of L was -8 in the paint.
The Cards had possession coming out of intermission. Dwayne Sutton missed a trey, but Malik Williams fought for the carom. Cunningham then missed a bomb, but Sutton grabbed the rebound. CC missed another threeball, but this time Williams followed with a deuce.
After harvesting none in the 1st, the Cards, finally looking ready to battle as they have all season, hit the glass for 3 offensive grabs on the opening possession of the 2d.
Then proceeded to give Baby Blue offensive boards on the visitors’ next two possessions.
A Sutton three with 10:50 to play cut the Tar Heel advantage to single digits. At least for a few seconds, until the victors scored again in the paint. Louisville never got that close again.
The final ten point margin, 79-69, is deceiving.
Truth be told, North Carolina in tit for tat mode manhandled U of L the whole afternoon. Just as the Cardinals had done to them in Chapel Hill a few weeks back.
* * * * *
The game was won in the 1st.
With 13:43 to go before the half, U of L led 15-12 after a Sutton three.
Between then and 4:56 on the clock, North Carolina outhustled, outtoughed and outscored the Cardinals 22-4 for 34-19 lead.
There were several scrums during yesterday’s fray. You know those interludes where players are sprawled on the floor, crawling over each other, legs and arms flailing, the ball pinballing about, and the zebras, as if they’re officiating Wrestlemania XXVIII, let it tussle on without a whistle.
North Carolina ended up with the rock after all those.
* * * * *
The one consistent all season for this edition of the Cardinals has been their effort. Even in the loss to Pitt.
For the most part, it wasn’t there yesterday against Roy Williams’ team. Second chance points: North Carolina 18, Louisville 3. Rebounds: North Carolina 49, Louisville 32.
On a day honoring Muhammed Ali, U of L inexplicably showed little fight.
In his post game comments, Chris Mack didn’t go quite as far as using the term “deplorable” as he did after the loss in Steel City, but he mentioned another D word often.
He didn’t even acknowledge Sutton’s 19 points and 8 rebounds, or Cunningham’s 9 assists and 15 points.
In front of the second biggest crowd of the campaign, the Cardinals were back on their heels all day.
* * * * *
Were there any positives?
One guy’s opinion, I thought Darius Perry played his steadiest game in awhile during his 17 minutes on the floor.
In fact, he was the only Cardinal with a positive +/- at +3.
* * * * *
One of the things I like least in life is having somebody tell me what to wear. So, I have always hated these white outs, black outs and red outs. They’re nothing more than ESPN wanting what they feel is a cool background visual for the TV screen.
What I loathe even more is Sean Moth shaming people on the video screen because they didn’t wear white. Even if those he called out were in some sort of Cardinal gear. This was totally uncalled for. When he was doing it, the words that came to my mind were “Sieg Heil.”
Speaking of haberdashery. There was a middle aged dude sitting behind the north goal, wearing a two-tone gray top hat and a purple, sparkled jacket. Stylin’.
I thought U of L’s unis were pretty cool. But I didn’t like them as much as the throwbacks the women wore against UConn.
* * * * *
Quick turnaround. Virginia Tech, Monday at 7:00.
-- Seedy K