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Kenny Payne era at Louisville starts with 57-47 exhibition loss to Lenoir-Rhyne

The Cards’ two decade long winning streak in exhibition games is no more.

Syndication: The Courier-Journal Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Kenny Payne era for the Louisville men’s basketball program got off on perhaps the worst foot possible Sunday afternoon as the Cards dropped a 57-47 decision to visiting Lenoir-Rhyne in exhibition play at the KFC Yum Center.

The loss snapped U of L’s 39-game winning streak in exhibition play. Louisville had not lost an exhibition game since Dec. 2, 2000 when Denny Crum’s final Cardinal team fell 87-86 in double overtime to the Global Sports All-Stars.

Jae’Lyn Withers provided pretty much the only bright spot for the home team, leading the way for the Cards with 20 points and 10 rebounds. He was the only Louisville player to score in double figures.

“We needed this whoopin’,” Payne said after the game. “We needed this loss because there is something that happened in this program before I got here that hasn’t healed yet.

“I wish it didn’t happen, but I’m sort of glad that it didn’t happen. We’re trying to establish a culture, and to get there, they’re going to have to go through some adversity. How do you handle that?”

U of L scored just 19 points as a team in the second half and shot 29.2 percent from the field for the game. They finished with 16 turnovers against only seven assists, and were nearly doubled up in points in the paint by the much smaller Bears. The Cards also finished the afternoon with zero fast-break points.

So, yeah, it was bad.

Lenoir-Rhyne, for those interested, went 10-18 at the Division-II level and was playing Sunday afternoon without their two leading returning scorers from that team.

I’ll be blunt: I’ve been watching Louisville basketball my entire life and I’ve never seen a Cardinal team look that bad in an exhibition game. The missed layups, the unforced turnovers, the total confusion on defense, the lack of fight when they fell behind what should have been an overmatched opponent ... it was all, well it was all very bad.

On the flip side, congrats to former Card Everick Sullivan and his team for coming into town and making a lifelong memory.

Nowhere to go from here but up, I suppose. Here’s hoping that upward trajectory begins on Thursday when Chaminade visits the Yum Center.