It’s a chance for redemption on Monday when 16th ranked Louisville plays #2 North Carolina at the KFC Yum Center. For the Cardinals the game can’t get here soon enough.
Louisville, in one of the worst performances in Rick Pitino’s 14 years as coach, was slugged by Virginia 63-47.
“If we do the same thing Monday I think it’s not going to be pretty,” said freshman guard Donovan Mitchell. “We have to focus much more on defense.”
North Carolina (19-2, 8-0) comes into the game with a full head of steam winning 12 straight. The Tar Heels are averaging 85.8 points and five players averaging double figures.
The Heels #1 in the USA Today Coaches Poll (#2 in AP) are led by senior forward Brice Johnson who averages 16.8 points per game, 10th in the ACC, rebounding 10.2, second in the league and field goal percentage .623 which leads the conference. Marcus Paige, the preseason ACC Co-Player of the Year, averages 12.7 points and 3.9 assist per game.
This is a chance for the Cardinals to make amends for Saturday’s poor showing. Louisville (17-4, 6-2) have lost to all three of the ranked teams they’ve played. Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan State.
Louisville needs a statement win that will make the NCAA selection committee in March take notice. A win over the Tar Heels could be one….and maybe the start of a February run.
“This is when it gets fun,” said Paige. “This is why you play in the ACC. It gets really fun and gets you ready for March.”
North Carolina and Louisville played three times last season with the Heels winning twice. Louisville rallied from 18 points behind before winning in overtime at The Yum. Carolina knows what the road is all about.
“We are going to be ready for them,” said Johnson. “We just have to go to practice and prepare the way we know how and give them our best shot.”
Even though Carolina is winning, coach Roy Williams doesn’t seem overly impressed. The Tar Heels have 10 games left, six on the road the ACC Tournament.
“If we play the way we played the last four games, it will be very, very, very difficult to win those games,” said Williams. “I said (before Boston College, Saturday) lets play to get better on defense, let’s play to get better on offense and let’s give a “Grade A” effort and see if we are mature enough to handle this.”
Louisville is somewhat in the same position. Pitino said Friday at his news conference he’s not sure about this team’s identity. I know these guys are going to play hard, I just don’t know how they are going to play.”
There are plenty of mine fields in the future. Road trips to Duke, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Miami, and Virginia await the Cardinals in addition to Louisville hosting Boston College, Syracuse, Duke, and Georgia Tech at the Yum! Center.
“We got hit really hard and it’s all about how you respond,” Mitchell said. “I think this is good for us because now I think we won’t let that happen the next game. We know how to play against a top tier team in our conference.”
NOTING THE MEDIA
WDRB Fox41 columnist Rick Bozich wrote a column about how he thought Virginia was the most over rated team and the Cardinals the most underrated in the ACC.
The five or so media covering the Cavaliers had some fun following the game. The first player that was made available for interviews was 7-footer Mike Tobey. After answering several questions Tobey was asked if he read Bozich’s story.
“A columnist here wrote about Virginia being overrated. I guess he was saying you guys were over-rated. I don’t imagine you knew about that column,” said the unidentified media person.
“I don’t read the Louisville local stuff,” said Tobey.
Another journalist cracked “You don’t get it delivered.”
Bozich in his Sunday column wrote, “Let me get this out of the way. Virginia is not overrated.”
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