Louisville’s struggles in the ACC tournament continued Wednesday night with a 70-56 loss at the hands of No. 10 seed Duke. The Cardinals are now just 2-5 in the tournament since joining the conference in 2014-15, and have yet to advance past the quarterfinals.
A lack of energy and some horrid shooting put U of L in a large hole from the jump. They responded with a 16-0 run that seemingly came out of nowhere and briefly gave them a two-point advantage before a Matthew Hurt three-pointer allowed Duke to carry a 30-29 lead into the break.
Stunningly, Louisville started the second half with the same lack of effort and energy that dug their initial hole. With little resistance from their opponents, Duke scored the first nine points of the half, and never really relinquished control of the game again.
Blue Devil big man Mark Williams was the unquestioned star of the evening. He feasted on Louisville’s youthful and undersized frontcourt to the tune of 23 points and 19 rebounds. Hurt added 20, which felt like a single-digit performance after his extraordinary efforts against the Cards in January and February.
Louisville finished the game a woeful 19-of-62 (30.6 percent) from the field, and went just 7-of-25 (28.0 percent) from three. David Johnson scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the way. Carlik Jones (13) was the only other Cardinal to score in double figures.
U of L must now sit around and wait for the next four days as the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee scrutinizes a resume that features just one Quadrant one victory, but only 20 total games played.
I won’t beat around the bush here, the lack of energy at the start of both halves in the biggest spot of the season was just totally deflating and inexcusable. I know wild things happen in the tournament and Chris Mack’s teams at Xavier made their biggest runs when they were low seeds with little fanfare, but if the effort and the energy aren’t going to be there, it’s hard to feel overly optimistic about this team’s ability to create anything resembling March magic. And that’s assuming we even hear our name called on Sunday.
If I had to guess, I’d guess that Louisville is headed to the First Four and will be tipping off a week from tomorrow. At this point, I guess you take that and hope for the best. It’s all you can do.