It was more or less the same old story for Chris Mack’s Louisville Cardinals against Florida State on Saturday night, as U of L will return to the Derby City carrying a 79-70 loss. The defeat drops U of L to 4-1 in ACC play.
Just five days after scoring 54 points total in a lopsided loss to Wake Forest, Florida State exploded for 50 in the first half against Louisville. Much of that was due to the play of Houston transfer and leading scorer Caleb Mills, who scored 23 of his game-high 27 points in the opening frame.
After falling behind by as many as 14 early in the second half, Louisville was able to whittle the Florida State lead all the way down to two. After that, an inability by the Cardinals to knock down a single wide open three coupled with a dagger desperation trey by Seminole freshman Matthew Cleveland kept U of L from ever getting over the hump.
“If we had defended in the first half the way we defended in the second, it could have been a different story,” Mack said after the game. “Offense wasn’t the problem in this game. It was the defense in the first half that killed us.”
El Ellis once again came off the bench to lead the Cards in scoring, dropping 14 points to go along with three assists and a steal. Samuell Williamson played with fire all night, finishing with 13 points and seven rebounds. And Mason Faulkner also came off the bench to help Louisville keep things respectable, chipping in 12 points and three assists.
Cleveland was the only Seminole besides Mills to score in double figures. The reigning ACC Freshman of the Week came off the bench to score 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field.
The offense was good enough in the first half, but the defense wasn’t anywhere close. The defense was good enough in the second half, but the offense wasn’t anywhere close. That’s not a recipe for success in a road game against a team with the talent and size of FSU.
This was the 50th all-time meeting between Louisville and Florida State. Before 2018, the Seminoles had never won more than two consecutive games over the Cards, and they had only accomplished that feat once. They’ve now won five straight over U of L, and the last four have all been by nine points or more.
That’s ... frustrating. Especially when the most recent defeat is coming from a Seminole team that I’m not sure could stay within 15 points of any of the last three.
There’s no time to sulk for this team as their next three games are all against teams that are near the bottom of the ACC standings and figure to be there for the long haul. A loss in any of those outings would be pretty devastating.