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Louisville stumbles early and often in 78-72 loss at Miami

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There’s no time for this Cardinal squad to feel sorry for itself.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Miami-Florida Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Playing against a Miami team that entered the evening 1-5 in the ACC and without four of its starters, Louisville served up perhaps its most disappointing performance of the season. A lackluster start once again placed U of L in an early hole that, this time, proved too steep to climb out of in a 78-72 loss.

The only usual starter Miami did have healthy wound up playing the best game of his college career to date. Sophomore guard Isaiah Wong torched Louisville to the tune of a career-high 30 points. He chipped in seven assists and five rebounds for good measure.

While Wong was spectacular, Louisville’s own sophomore star was almost non-existant. David Johnson scored just five points on 2-of-6 shooting, and never really made an impact on the game on either end of the floor.

Conversely, Johnson’s backcourt mate, Carlik Jones, was once again tremendous. Jones poured in a season-high 26 points to go along with seven assists, and at one point late in the second half scored 15 of U of L’s 17 points as the Cardinals attempted to close the gap on their hosts.

Against the worst team in the ACC when it comes to defending the three (and the No. 330 team in the country against the three), Louisville simply could not find its stoke from beyond the arc. The Cards misfired on their first 10 three-point attempts, and ended the game a woeful 3-of-20 from deep.

That stat, Wong’s play, and Miami’s 12 offensive rebounds pretty much told the story of the evening.

It’s not necessarily disappointing that Louisville lost a league road game in which it was a slight favorite, it’s the way the loss happened that has me feeling pretty discouraged.

I thought the days of this team coming out and going through the motions like they’re good enough to walk over an inferior league opponent were over, but apparently not. U of L didn’t get to 9-1 the way some more talented Cardinal teams of the past got to 9-1. This group got to 9-1 by going balls out (pretty much) every game. None of us this works if that isn’t their mentality for a full 40 minutes, and tonight it was their mentality for about 25. That’s pretty upsetting.

Louisville now turns its attention to a monster week that will see them host red hot Florida State on Big Monday, and then welcome the Duke Blue Devils to town on Saturday.

We’re going to learn an awful lot about this group over the next seven days.